Cause and effect of bilingual education in early childhood
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Bilingual education, in early childhood, promotes quality education and a better understanding of different cultures. There are two ways bilingual education is used. One way is when English speakers learn a second language, such as Spanish, by being in a classroom where both languages are used to teach students. The second is where non-English speaking individuals learn English with the help of their native language. Both ways help individuals learn a second language more effectively and increase chances of retaining what they learn. Bilingual education promotes learning ability, fluency, and cultural understanding.
Bilingual education is a very important and serious topic here in America. In the state of Massachusetts alone in, the years of 2001 and 2002 there were about 49,000 students that were not proficient in speaking English (Mary Ann Zehr, p.1). These numbers are common place throughout America. Every where one goes there are numerous communities and people that at not fluent in speaking English. To help this ever growing population of non English speaking peoples many schools are taking one or two different approaches to better equip the nation’s youth to fit in and communicate better with the real world that surrounds them. The first program that many schools offer is called, the two way program. Such programs put English speaking children and non English speaking children together in the same class. In this type of setting, the class is taught in both English and a second language, which is almost always Spanish. This helps the English speaking students learn Spanish not only from the teacher but also with the help of their fellow classmates.
This is an important way to for English speaking children to not only learn and become fluent in another language but to also learn about another culture. With the mixture of languages and backgrounds, they learn about the other children’s customs and ways of lives easier with a more hands on approach. The teacher helps celebrate the Spanish children’s holidays and traditions and passes this knowledge on to the English speaking children. This also works for the way in which the Spanish speaking children are taught English. The second way that children are taught a second language is fully immersing them into that language for on an average of 2 to 3 years. What ever method is used is irrelevant to the out come; students that know a second language do better in school, and become more culturally understanding.
Studies that have been conducted show that when English speaking students are taught a second language they score better on standardized tests than do students who do not learn a second language. Wayne P. Thomas and Virginia P. Collier from the George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia have conducted a set of these studies where they looked at reports on student records from 1982 to 2000. They found conclusively that students that have been taught a second language at a young age not only learn it faster, retain more of it, but perform much better in school in the long run from it. Non English speaking individuals also for obvious reasons benefit from learning English. It has been found however that if non English speaking students first learn to read and the basics of education in their native language it then becomes easier to learn it in English.
According to an article in the USA Today, “Teaching subject matter in the fist language stimulates intellectual development and provides valuable knowledge that will help the child understand instruction when it is presented in English, which helps English-language development” (Stephen Krashen, p. 2). The article also states these children that are first taught in their native language usually acquire the same amount of English skills and most times more English skills than those children that are in all-English classes. Not only does this help the non English speaking children learn English more quickly it also helps them hold on to their native culture. This is very important to most parents that are not native or are recent generations from another country. This is also important because it promotes diversity and cultural understanding among the nation’s youth.
Learning a second language is done at an early age, most cases starting in kindergarten. This is done to because the children learn it faster, easier, and retain more of it. For the children that are learning English as their second language they need to be able to speak it before they advance on to higher levels of education. What ever method is used the children that learn second languages at an early age are better suited to live and work in vastly culturally diverse world about them. Children are taught a second language early on, and because of this knowledge, they become more culturally diverse and more understanding of the differences in people, more fluent, and more apt to learning and performing better on tests and in school.