Bilingual Education in the United States
The type of education that U.S. bilinguals receive varies from program type to another. The education options are Transitional bilingual education, maintenance bilingual education, English as a second language, immersion, sheltered English, and submersion. However, in reading this chapter, it seems clear that the program and model labels are not what bilingual educators should be focused on. Instead, the focal point needs to revolve around the students, families, and communities served and their native-language and English-language characteristics. Another thing that needs to be taken into account is the model of instruction that will be implemented in choosing the native language and English, as the medium of instruction, and how it will be handled. Finally, before consideration of implementation of running a particular bilingual education option, a closer look needs to be taken at the resources and staff that will be utilized during the instruction of the bilingual students.
Schools seeking best practice in serving bilingual students need to embrace educational research that has attempted to determine what instruction and learning features include. Based on August and Hakuta (1997) comprehensive review of optimal learning conditions for linguistically and culturally diverse populations that lead to high academic performance, the following attributes were identified: A supportive school-wide climate, school leadership, a customized learning environment, articulation and coordination within and between schools, use of native language and culture in instruction, a balanced curriculum that includes both basic and higher-order skills, explicit skill instruction, opportunities for student-directed instruction, use of instructional strategies that enhance understanding, opportunities for practice, systematic student assessment, staff development, and home and parent involvement.
The aim of dual-language (DL) programs is to create bilingual, bicultural students without sacrificing these students??™ success in school or beyond. The goals of DL are to provide high-quality instruction for language-minority students and to provide instruction in a second language for English-speaking students. DL programs also aim to teach cross-cultural awareness. There are two main models of language division. In the 50:50 model, instruction is given half the day in English and half the day in another language, such as Spanish, for instance, throughout the grades. In the 90:10 model, children spend 90% of their kindergarten schooldays in the minority language, with the percentage gradually dropping to 50% by fourth or fifth grade.
The advanced language/literacy skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening needed to succeed in school are often referred to as ???academic English??? In order to further develop academic English in the bilingual classroom teachers need to provide students with ample exposure to academic English in the use of activities and assignments that call on students to use academic English. Teachers need to get students to attend to features of academic English. Teachers need to provide direct, explicit language instruction such as word formation skills and specific uses of grammar. Teachers need to provide multiple assessments of bilinguals??™ academic English. Honest feedback needs to be given to students concerning their English development.
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