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Bilingual Education. Thomas Huber. Overview. Bilingual Education is described as involving teaching academic content in two languages, in a native and a secondary language with varying amounts of each language used in accordance with the program model.

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  • Bilingual Education is described as involving teaching academic content in two languages, in a native and a secondary language with varying amounts of each language used in accordance with the program model.
  • Countries all over the world have used bilingual education in their school systems, including Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan, and most European countries, among others.
types of bilingual education models
Types of Bilingual Education Models
  • Transitional Bilingual Education: This involves teaching in the child’s native language, typically for no more than three years, to ensure they do not fall behind in core subject areas.
  • Two-way or Dual Language Immersion: These programs are designed to help native and non-native English speakers become bilingual and biliterate. The two-way bilingual immersion program has 90% of the instructions in grade K-1 in minority language which is less supported by the broader society and 10% in the majority language .
  • Dual Language programs are less common in US schools, although research indicates they are extremely effective in helping students learn English well and aiding the long-term performance of English learners in school
bilingual education in the united states
Bilingual Education in the United States
  • Bilingual education in the U.S. focuses on English Language Learners (ELL). According to the U.S. Department of Education, a bilingual education program is “and educational program for limited English proficient students.”
  • Supporters of these programs argue that it will not only help to keep non-English-speaking children from falling behind their peers in math, science, and social studies while they master English, but such programs teach English better than English-only programs
origins in the united states
Origins in the United States
  • Bilingual Education first occurred in the first English settlement Virginia, in what is now the United States.
  • Polish immigrants provided skills and techniques in shipbuilding that Englishmen could not perform.
  • The House of Burgesses met in 1619 and those rights only extended to the Englishmen, the first strike took place.
  • In need of the Poles’ skills they received “rights of Englishmen” and established the first bilingual schools that taught subjects in both English and Polish.
  • From this point forward, some form of bilingual education would be present in the United States

During the 18th century, Franciscan missionaries from California to Texas used indigenous languages to translate Catholic teachings to Native Americans.

  • By the mid 19th century, private and public bilingual schools had adopted many languages including Czech, Dutch, French, German, Spanish, and Swedish.
  • Ohio became the first state to enact a bilingual education law, authorizing German-English instructors at parents’ request.
  • By the end of the 19th century, more than a dozen US states passed similar laws.

In 1968, the Bilingual Education Act, as it is informally known, was enacted, and aimed to give immigrants access to education in their native language.

  • For years to come bilingual education would flourish in the United States, only to have its law terminated in 2001 with the passing of the No Child Left Behind Act.
controversy in the us
Controversy in the US
  • Recently, there has been a lot of public discussion about bilingual education.
  • In a 2009 court case (Horne v. Flores) the majority opinion stated, "Research on ELL instruction indicates there is documented, academic support for the view that SEI (Structured English Emersion) is significantly more effective thank bilingual education.”
  • Still supporters of traditional bilingual education claim that it is easier to learn English and will become better bilingual students if they are proficient in their own language first.

Dual language or Two-Way bilingual programs are one such approach, whereby half of the students speak English and half are considered English language learners (ELLs). The teacher instructs in English and in the ELLs' home language. The dual purpose of this type of classroom is to teach the children a new language and culture, and language diversity in such classrooms is seen as a resource.