The e-mails keep coming in with your thoughts on bilingual programs. Here is one perspective from reader Joe Silverman:

I come from an area that had large populations of eastern and southern European immigrants (like my parents). There was no English as a second Language or biliteracy programs. So, all students were required to know (or learn) English … and without a lot of ancillary support. I contend that these students fared better economically than those who are comforted by their language of origin. The thrust of multiculturalism retards the economic advancement of the young for cultural and political reasons, but not educational ones.

Former Chula Vista teacher Maura Larkins wrote a countering opinion about why bilingual programs have educational value:

Learning to speak well isn’t the only thing that kids need to learn in school.  English immersion advocates don’t adequately address the problems of students who learned to speak English just fine, but failed to develop necessary thinking skills. The whole point of bilingual education is that children are taught concepts in their native language. In English immersion, non-English speakers learn to speak English rapidly, but many of the concepts being taught go right over their heads. I have taught both English immersion and bilingual classes, and I was floored by how much more mental development occurred in bilingual classes. Of course, math concepts can be taught in the second language by using visual aids and solid objects, but some lessons should use a language the child understands.

Feel free to send me more of your perspectives, tips and information on bilingual education — or any education topic — at emily.alpert@voiceofsandiego.org.

EMILY ALPERT

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