Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Simon Says . . .

English, American English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Portuguese  . . . What’s the big hype over bilingualism?  Some say that it is just something we must learn; others believe it will foster better cultural unity.  But whatever the reason, the main issue is how it is associated with the education system today.  Many people argue that infusing bilingualism into the education of our children is very beneficial because it will not only make them more marketable in whichever career he or she pursues, but because it will make them more culturally diverse.  The other side of this argument believes that either the minority should learn the majority’s language or that bilingual education is not an important topic to be teaching.

Which to learn?First, I would like to point out an ironic thing I found while trying to scrap together sufficient information for this post.  As I was streaming through several YouTube videos, I found that much of the focus was English speakers had to learn other languages, but as I skimmed through website texts, the arguments were focused on minority speakers learning English.  So which are we suppose to learn?  If one group believes that bilingualism is a “crucial part of our melting pot country”, then which language should we adopt to?  Some argue that teaching certain languages and not others will seem like discrimination.  So how are we to chose which second language would be best to learn, by determining which is being more widely spoken, or the language that a person picks up on better than another language?

Where it all began?Low and behold, bilingual education is not something new!  Dr. Picciano states in his video (below) that during the Colonial Era up until World War I, schools not only taught English, but whichever secondary language was dominate in the specific area.   Dr. Picciano’s video is very fascinating, so watch it below!

Which is more important?One issue that is being argued is whether the student’s education of a second language is more important than the student’s mastery of literacy in their mother language.  I feel that a student should be mastered in mother language, and when I say “mastered” I mean: complete and correct literacy and be able to analyze and interrupt the literature in that language. Evidence shows that a student's reading ability is what’s really important and those who favor bilingual education offer findings that literacy transfers through to second languages.  However, just because a student reads well in one language doesn't mean that they'll be able to read well in another language that they've learned.

Which will give success?Is it true that if a person is bilingual, then they are more successful?  According to, “Many people who claim to have success without bilingual education were from environments where English was dominant and favored by the community.”  With the rapid growth of technology, people are able to use computers and cell phone applications to translate phrases between different languages.  But there is also value in learning a second language.  A person who is bilingual can easily communicate with another person who speaks the same language without typing or speaking into the device and waiting for the results.  But in the end, which route makes a person more successful?  No one truly knows for certain, but both cases show that whichever education one gets, they do have the potential of success.

For the information that I found, and for more educational hot topics, check out the Education website.  And if you wish you narrow your focus onto the issue of bilingual education, check out Sharon Cromwell's journals at Education World.  And again, if you wish to check out more of Dr. Picciano's YouTube videos, click on the link to be taken to his YouTube channel.

Comment below to let us know your stance on the issue. Or click my sign our to email me about any questions you may have.

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