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The state of California outlawed bilingual education almost twenty years ago. However, after years of heated discussions and increased contention about the efficacy and importance of bilingual education, people now have the ability to revive it. Through the passage of Proposition 58, English-only teaching formally ceases and is supplemented by instruction in both English and a second language. Currently, 1.4 million English language learners attend public schools in California. This figure reflects just 23% of all students enrolled in public schools. As such, most of the students are Spanish speakers, and this is the driving force for implementing bilingual education in this region (California Department of Education). San Diego being one of the major city in California will be lucky to have one of its schools engage in the bilingual programs with the hope of setting the pace for the acceptance and practice of this teaching strategy. The existing methods are typically English-only programs which are perceived as a pathway for improving proficiency for English learners. However, the decision to offer bilingual education is now at the disposal of the schools. The presence of the English-only programs has proven to be ineffective in accommodating the native languages of both English and Spanish. The introduction of bilingual learning will, therefore, solve this longstanding issue once and for all.
Statement of the Language, Literacy and Cultural Goals for the New Program
According to Albert Einstein Academies Charter Elementary School guidelines, each student possesses a particular linguistic heritage that describes their uniqueness in the learning environment. This system, therefore, emphasizes the importance of recognizing cultural identity and maintaining it while at the same time providing room for the acquisition of a second language leading to proficiency in both English and Spanish. The new program, therefore, seeks to teach students speaking, reading and writing skills using the two languages. This approach not only facilitates bilingualism but also promotes students’ bi-literalism in both languages. Instruction in both languages has been shown to increase the student’s thought process, problem-solving capacity as well as critical thinking. Children, therefore, have the chance to demonstrate genuine interests when it comes to learning new concepts, improving cognitive development, linguistic advancements and culture appreciation. This pioneer program intends to alter the way students learn albeit in a positive way. Basing on research that advocates for bilingual education as a tool that increases student’s performance, this program will, therefore, promote the dual language environment progressively. In this way, both the minority and majority language groups will benefit simultaneously and eventually master both languages.
Review of 2 Successful Bilingual Program Models
Transitional Bilingual Education
This approach is based on the educational theory that children can acquire fluency in a second language quickly if they first attain fluency in their native languages. For a long time now, transitional education has been successfully utilized to achieve fluency in speech and literacy among students from various backgrounds. The teaching in this strategy of bilingual education involves the provision of instruction in the native language through a bilingual tutor. As time goes and the student gains more proficiency in English, the provision of guidance in the native language decreases (Gold, 2006). Previously, many schools had adopted the transitional model of bilingual education, and its effectiveness has been shown to be considerable especially in the introduction of students to a second language. However, in a study conducted by Hofstetter, it is evident that while the approach performs its function in improving the acquisition of the second language, it does not adequately facilitate the proficiency of both the native and acquired languages for students (360). In other words, it is not as effective as other structured immersion bilingual programs.
The results, therefore, conclude that transitional bilingual education poses the risk of leading to academic deficiency when compared to the all-English instruction method. This finding does not imply that TBE does not work. Instead, it highlights one of its critical shortcomings which are solved by other models of bilingual instruction such as the two-way immersion.
Two-Way Immersion Programs
Slightly dissimilar to the transitional bilingual program, the bilateral immersion approach is based on the invitation of the native English speaking students to converge with their English language learning counterparts through an integrated bilingual classroom. The two-way classes as structured in a way that all students with the desire to enroll are allowed to do so. Although, it is recommended to have a balance of 50:50 for each linguistic group, this guideline is not a strict rule (Center for Applied Linguistics). Nevertheless, the approximate student balance goes a long way in balancing the background of each language. Notably, the two-way bilingual program solves the pertinent issue regarding socio-cultural aspects arising from segregated transitional bilingual strategies. The presence of competent teachers in the two-war bilingual instruction is critical in enhancing a learning environment where students from each language group appreciate, respect and value each other as partners in the learning process.
Various studies conducted on the effectiveness and outcomes of the two-way immersion program reveals that its impacts are astounding in a positive way. In fact Collier & Thomas highlight that dual language education is a reform that is relevant in the contemporary society (4). It is not only an all-inclusive model but also a beneficial approach for the entire student body in the respective schools that offer the program. Research results indicate that two-way immersion is the most effective and still the most promising bilingual education model. It not only enhances the cultural heritage but also increases proficiency in both languages and most of all, it has a positive association with student performance. These findings show that the approach impacts the lives of students, parents, educators, and researchers towards the entire process of lifelong learning.
The Proposed New Bilingual Program Model
The new bilingual program will emulate the two-way bilingual immersion program which has been shown to have benefits surpassing those of other bilingual models including transitional methods. San Diego, California is composed of both English and Spanish native speaking students hence the program will include these two languages from kindergarten to high school. The method seeks to utilize the 50:50 balance system and the students will receive instruction together. The theoretical foundation for this instruction approach is founded on the fact that linguistic research shows the efficient development of students through second language learning at an early age followed by continuous growth for five to seven years (Center for Applied Linguistics). This program, therefore, aims at building a strong language background earlier to achieve proficiency for the two languages. Furthermore, research indicates that language minority students show high academic performance through instruction in their native language. Likewise, language majority students can attain grade-level achievement even when instructed using a second language (Howard, Olague and Rogers 3). The goal of the new program is therefore embedded in dual language literacy development and proficiency for the majority and minority language speakers without reducing academic achievement and at the same time preserving the cultural heritage of the two groups.
As a typical 50/50 program, the provision of instruction in English and Spanish will be divided evenly at all grade levels. Experts recommend daily or weekly division in a balanced approach. As such, the daily segment will involve morning hours used for one language and afternoons for the other language. Optionally, one week will be spent for one language and the following week for the other. Preference will be determined following deliberations between the instructors, students, parents and the school’s administration. The programs will begin with a 90:10 ration and subsequently move towards a 50:50 equilibrium. Simply put, both English and Spanish will be integrated and disseminated equally for instruction with all students together, and by the third grade, all student will receive literacy instruction in the two languages. The target language (Spanish will, therefore, be used for a minimum of 50% later and a maximum of 90% initially. Student balance will also contribute to collaborative learning and positive interactions (Howard, Olague and Rogers 6).
Requirements for Teachers and Staff
The two most crucial elements include an appropriate knowledge-base through the acquisition of a bachelor’s degree and also the proficiency in both English and Spanish languages. The possession of valid credentials for teaching and bilingual certification assure the qualification and capability of the instructors to provide quality learning to the students in the two selected languages. Additionally, the teachers will be required to have at least six months to 1-year experience work in a bilingual setting coupled with the ability demonstrate to development of lesson plans, leading class activities, and performance-based assessment which is shown to be better for bilingual learning (García & Beardsmore 372). Other staff members will also be required to have dual proficiency in English and Spanish to ensure proper communication with the students.
Families and Community Involvement
Parent commitment through participation in student progress, school programs, meetings, contributions, and discussions is paramount. The level of parent involvement must be maintained throughout student’s education. Collaborative engagement among staff, students and parents will work towards strengthening this program (Howard, Olague and Rogers 9). The community as a whole can be of assistance through the provision of support, equal access to information, participation in curriculum committees, the provision of language learning workshops and indulging each other in a friendly manner.
Relevant Policies or Legal Requirements
Although proposition 227 altered the learning of students with limited English proficiency, this new bilingual program focuses on the equal status of the two languages. Administrators will work round the clock to ensure that the common core standards of education are maintained where quality, content, and context matches that of other schools. Likewise, the professional instructors will guarantee enactment of the principles of the No Child Left Behind act by providing avenues such as remedial and individual tutoring for lagging students to catch up.
Albert Einstein Academies Charter Elementary School. Language Policy 20152016. Policy Paper. San Diego, CA: Albert Einstein Academies Charter Elementary School, 2015.
California Department of Education. "Facts about English Learners in California - CalEdFacts." California Department of Education, 20 October 2017, https://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/sd/cb/cefelfacts.asp. Accessed 6 December 2017.
Center for Applied Linguistics. "Dual Language Program Directory." Center for Applied Linguistics, 2016, http://webapp.cal.org/duallanguage/. Accessed 6 December 2017.
Collier, Virginia P. and Wayne P. Thomas. "The Astounding Effectiveness of Dual Language Education for All." NABE Journal of Research and Practice (2004): 1-20.
García, Ofelia and Hugo Baetens Beardsmore. Bilingual Education in the 21st Century: A Global Perspective. Malden, MA : Oxford : Wiley-Blackwell Pub, 2009.
Gold, Norm. Successful Bilingual Schools: Six Effective Programs in California. San Diego: San Diego County Office of Education, 2006.
Hofstetter, Carolyn Huie. "Effects of a Transitional Bilingual Education Program: Findings, Issues, and Next Steps." The Journal of the National Association for Bilingual Education (2010): 355-377.
Howard, Elizabeth, Natalie Olague and David Rogers. The Dual Language Program Planner: A Guide for Designing and Implementing Dual Language Programs. Technical Report. Santa Cruz, CA: Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence, University of California, 2002.
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