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The term bilingual, when used in any context brings about the aspect of one being able to use two languages on a regular basis. So to speak, language is an essential part of communication whether in the social setting or any other setting whereby communication is required. In connection to this, a bilingual family is a family that has the capability or in simpler terms it is a family that uses two languages on a customary basis. In line with this, the bilingual families coming to the United States Education system will be brought into view. In relation to this, there has been a very rich history of the bilingual families coming into the US education system. As such, these are the families who in most cases happen to be immigrants who come to the US with the ability to talk or rather use their native language and English as a secondary one (Arsenian, 1945, p.66-71).
In a case as such, there has been an ongoing struggle for such families to integrate in the US education system which is so much inclined to the use of English as a national and official language in this matter. Non English speakers have faced hardship in the US education system despite the fact that many of the people who live in US are immigrants. The aspect of the bilingual Families coming to the United States Education System has brought about a lot of controversy as the ideas of both the proponents and opponents differ. The coming of the bilingual families in the US education system has brought about the controversy because the presence of children from such families calls for the inclusion of the bilingual programs in the system. Those that make the educational policies tend to have a biased mentality towards the bilingual families. This is for the reasons of racism and discrimination of other cultures other than the English speakers (Arsenian, 1945, p.65-70). This is directed mostly to immigrants who have to use more than one language and in this case, their native language and the English Language. In this sense, it is of importance to define a bilingual education in order to bring out the content of the topic under discussion.
Bilingual education is a form of education whereby the teaching of the content of the education is in two languages. This is achieved by means of using a native language and a secondary language. In this case, the amount of each language used, is done in accordance to the program model that has been adapted. Commonly, it is done in the model whereby the education is taught in a child’s native language for duration of utmost three years and then the secondary language. This helps the students to switch from their native language to the English-only classes. Another way through which bilingual education can be carried out is when the English and non English speaking proficient students are brought together in order to learn from each other. In such a program, the students benefit from each language and each other as well.
Again, the bilingual education system may take the form which extends the duration of the child learning the native language in collaboration with the secondary one. At the same time, it may assume a form of dual language whereby the students learn in the two languages. These are some of the forms that bilingual education system may take among other such like forms. According to the history, the civil rights movement in the Unites States allowed or put it forward that in a situation whereby about twenty or so students were non English speakers, bilingual education system was necessary. This is to suggest that in such a class, the students would learn first in their native language and then in the secondary language. Nonetheless, at time went on, the integration of bilingual programs in the US educational system diminished and as a result, education was offered in English only (Genesee, 1985, p.541-546).
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It is from the basis of common sense, experience and research findings that the need for bilingual education is made a necessity. In this context, those that support bilingual education suggest that it is easier for a child to learn English if he or she is taught in the native language other than English at first. In the same line of thought, those that support bilingual education view it as a rich resource especially in the current era of globalization. With globalization, bilingual families in the education system will enable the interactions and knowledge of other cultures. On the other hand, opponents of bilingual education tend to view the system to be a form of delaying the child from integrating in the mainstream academic model (Lambert, Richard & Anglejan, 1973, p.141-146). Moreover, they claim that the system has got no observed support and in this sense they disqualify its credibility.
As a result, there has been a controversy on the implementation of the bilingual education in the United States. Research has pointed out that the performance of the students who have a Limited English proficiency score lower as compared to those that are English speakers. In such a situation, the non English speakers may be limited as they are not culturally embedded to the new language through which instruction is given and through which they are examined. The bilingual families in the United States are mostly made of the immigrants who have their native language but they have to learn English as a second language. In the process, since the parents are not proficient in English presumably the official language in America, their children may have a limited capability in their academics and therefore their performance may be affected.
This has been evident in the research. In particular, those that oppose the bilingual education tend to be having a certain societal attitude that can be best described as racism. In this context, opponents of bilingual education seek to perpetuate the racism through the suppression of the largest language minority exalting English as the official language. There are several benefits of bilingual education that can be realized in the economical sector, social and in the political arena. In specific terms, bilingual education promotes equality and narrows the gap between the majority language minority and minority language majority. It promotes the academic performance of the immigrant and integrates the bilingual families in the educational system thus promoting the national and international requirements for survival at the age of globalization (Lambert, Richard & Anglejan, 1973, p.146-151).
The aspect of the bilingual Families coming to the United States Education System is a step towards eradicating racism and promotes the welfare of the nation as whole. It always promotes the learning capability of the Limited English Proficient students who have difficulties in integrating the principles of mathematics, sciences and social studies in English as a second Language. It also prevents the school drop outs for the non English Speakers (Prevatt & Kelly, 2003, p.377-382). Education is a sector that calls for the contribution of the academia community, the society and in particular the family of the child. It this line of thought, it becomes so difficult for a bilingual family to help the student to learn as most of them in US as immigrants they do not do well in English. If students are taught in English and at home they speak their native language like Spanish, then the child will tend to get confused and her intelligence may turn out to be low as the child finds it difficult to integrate the two languages (Lambert, Richard & Anglejan, 1973, p.152-157). The child may also develop an attitude towards the native language as the educational system does not offer an opportunity for it.
On the other hand, if the bilingual families coming to the US educational system are made recognition of by being integrated in the system by means of introducing the bilingual education system, then their children will develop in their academic and their level of intelligence. Commonly, bilingual families who are in the US education system have their children learning English at the expense of their native language. This becomes a limitation to promote the cross cultural interaction necessitated by language (Lambert, Richard & Anglejan, 1973, p.154-159). Being an important aspect of culture, learning the language of others helps one to understand the culture of the others and thus promote the levels of interaction as well as the level of understanding.
Research has pointed out that bilingualism in education leads and in fact promotes a divergent and creative way of thinking on the side of the child. Such children possess the ability to think creatively and make provision for solutions to problems. It has also been pointed out that the bilingual children have better meta-linguistic skills and they have a deeper understanding of the process of language (LaFromboise, Coleman & Gerton, 1993, p.395-400). Additionally, bilingual children are better placed in terms of performance as good as the monolingual ones and in other cases they are better than them.
Having pointed out the issues that exist in relation to bilingual families coming to the United States Education System, it is prerequisite to give an overview of the benefits and the reasons for their coming. With globalization and modernization, United States has become a place with many immigrants who speak in their own native language other than English. This being the case, there has been a big debate on the inclusion of bilingual programs in the US education system in order to cover the bilingual families. Critics of the idea, have no solid ground for their support as they tend to portray a biased societal attitude towards the bilingual families.
However, there are a good number of benefits that comes along with the bilingual families coming to the United States Education System. As such they comprise of the fact that the child is able to communicate effectively with every member of the family. Secondly, it allows for flexibility in terms of where to work and the competing opportunities in the globe. Cultural understanding across different cultures is promoted thus such children tend to be more open-minded as well as to be in possession of multicultural sensitivity (LaFromboise, Coleman & Gerton, 1993, p.399-404). Excellent problem solving as well as analytical skills and concept formation skills are realized with bilingualism.
Accordingly, visual social abilities and excellent logical reasoning along with cognitive flexibility are realized. Furthermore, bilingualism in education leads to creativity, flexibility, adaptability, high self esteem, social sensitivity, enhanced interpersonal and social skills. In addition, transfer of academic skills from language to language is realized as well as the aspect of mutual and cooperative learning. An achievement of these benefits stands as a key factor in promoting international relations and survival in the age of globalization.
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