Bilingual education - is it necessary in the USA?

@naty1941 (2336)
United States
March 31, 2007 9:37pm CST
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich equated bilingual education Saturday with "the language of living in a ghetto" and mocked requirements that ballots be printed in multiple languages. This was in the news today March 31, 2007 - I take offense to this remark as I believe that bilingual education helps children from other countries that are being educated in the USA benefit from it. It is not the language of living in a ghetto. Mr. Newt is way out of line with this remark. What do you think?
6 people like this
13 responses
@RebeccaLynn (2256)
• United States
1 Apr 07
While I don't think that bilingual education is the language of the Ghetto, I do take offence to the fact that so many people come to this country and do not bother to learn English. Why move to a country and expect everyone else to learn your language rather than the other way around? Being multi-lingual is, of course, a wonderful thing but at the same time, have the courtesy to learn the native tongue.
@naty1941 (2336)
• United States
1 Apr 07
Let me point out the meaning of bilingual education according to Wikipedia: Bilingual education involves teaching all subjects in school through two different languages - in the United States, instruction occurs in English and a minority language, such as Spanish or Chinese, with varying amounts of each language used in accordance with the program model. The following are several different types of bilingual education program models: Transitional Bilingual Education. This involves education in a child's native language, typically for no more than three years, to ensure that students do not fall behind in content areas like math, science, and social studies while they are learning English. The goal is to help students transition to mainstream, English-only classrooms as quickly as possible, and the linguistic goal of such programs is English acquisition only. The overwhelming majority of bilingual programs in the U.S. are transitional. Two-Way or Dual Language Bilingual Education. These programs are designed to help native and non-native English speakers become bilingual and biliterate. Ideally in such programs in a U.S. context, half of the students will be native speakers of English and half of the students will be native speakers of a minority language such as Spanish. Dual Language programs are less commonly permitted in US schools, although research indicates they are extremely effective in helping students learn English well and aiding the long-term performance of English learners in school (Center for Applied Linguistics, 2005; Thomas & Collier, 1997; Lindholm-Leary, 2000). One of the most effective forms of Bilingual Education is a type of Dual Language program that has students study in two different ways: 1) A variety of academic subjects are taught in the students' second language, with specially trained bilingual teachers who can understand students when they ask questions in their native language, but always answer in the second language; and 2) Native language literacy classes improve students writing and higher-order language skills in their first language. Research has shown that many of the skills learned in the native language can be transferred easily to the second language later. In this type of program, the native language classes do not teach academic subjects. The second-language classes are content-based, rather than grammar-based, so students learn all of their academic subjects in the second language. Late-Exit or Developmental Bilingual Education. Education is in the child's native language for an extended duration, accompanied by education in English. The goal is to develop bilingualism and biliteracy in both languages. This program is available to students whose native language is not English, and also less common than transitional programs.
3 people like this
• United States
1 Apr 07
You mean like comming here and not kow how to speak Souix? Or Cherokee or any of the othe lanuages spoken by the natives when the Europeans invaded?
3 people like this
• United States
3 Apr 07
Naty1941: I apologize. I misunderstood. Newt probably didn't misunderstand. Teaching children English with this method is a great idea. I do not understand why Newt has a problem with it, but I Thank you for elaborating and educating me! WeenitsMom: Our society was not as advanced then as it is now. My point is, if you move to France, you are expected to know how to communicate in French. If you move to Mexico, you are expected to learn to communicate in Spanish. You do not, however, expect to move to another country and have all of the citizens there cater to your language because you chose not to educate yourself. I am not at all against being able to speak several languages. On the contrary, I think that is a wonderful thing. The pervasive language in the U.S. is English. If you move to this country, then you should at least have the courtesy to learn the language. Do you speak Sioux or Cherokee? If not, then maybe the both of us should pursue a bilingual education.
1 person likes this
• Grand Junction, Colorado
1 Apr 07
I would call the remark the Gingrich used as rude, but I don't support bilingual education. Living in California where we have a high amount of people living from many parts of the world speaking many different languages, I don't think that we should "cater" to them. If you can't read and speak English then you shouldn't be able to vote. We shouldn't have ballots printed in other languages just so that they can vote. If you come to this country English should be your first language. We did have several schools that were doing the bilingual education and at least 2 of them in one city here were closed as they weren't fulfilling their purpose. Which was to get the children into mainstream English classes. I don't have an answer for what to do with the children of non-English speaking parents, but as a tax payer I can tell you that I'm fed up with having to support people that come to this country and EXPECT us to cater to them. I went down to the Oakland area and on the outskirts of the town it was a heavily Chinese population, the street signs there were not only in English but they were also in Chinese. Who paid for this? We did as taxpayers. Maybe our schools wouldn't have to cut so many of the important things out, if we weren't trying to cater to illegal immigrants or children of non-English speaking parents. (yes I realize that this discussion isn't about illegal immigrants and that is all I will say because of it) Many of these kids when going to those schools still come home to parents that still don't know any of the English language and some may or may not be trying to learn from their children. So in conclusion, while I think that Gingrich didn't word his statement correctly and that it sounded harsh, I agree with the basis of his statement. If you come to America you shouldn't expect us to cater to you. This of course is my 2 cents worth! :)
@naty1941 (2336)
• United States
2 Apr 07
Thank you for your response it is very enlightning. I too live in California and have noticed that bilingual education is not working in California due to a variety of reasons. One thing I noticed is that the teachers that teach Bilingual education are not well trained in the native language of the students they are teaching. Therefore, the classes are not productive as the lesson becomes more complicated than they should be.
1 person likes this
@Michele21 (3094)
• United States
1 Apr 07
I don't know if I support it or not, my daughter is 6 and in kindergarden this year and they are learing Spanish!! I was shocked when she came home and told me all about it, they go once a week and learn Spanish, for now it is just colors and simple things, but I am wondering if this is going to interfear with other things that they need to be learning. I am not saying I am against it because I think it is pretty neat, but I want her to be focus on the basics of school, not learning another language in kindergarden.
5 people like this
• Netherlands
1 Apr 07
Sounds like reverse integration to me. They are integrating your kids for the Spanish speakers. It certainly should be the other way around I would think. At one time I had immigrated to USA from my home country Romania.... Did I expect everyone to speak my language? NO. I learned English BEFORE I went and of course enrolled in classes once there to further my understanding of the language. I certainly wouldn't have expected to see things translated into my language on my account. If you go to my country to live I guarantee you have to learn our language. Why USA any different. It is insane the lengths that PC people will go to satisfy others while putting themself out.
3 people like this
@Marie2473 (8519)
• Sweden
1 Apr 07
Here in Sweden we also have to learn english from the age of 9, and recently they have also made it obligatory for the children to start a 3.rd language (German, French or spanish) at the age of 11. I do belive that we are benefiting from this - atleast when it comes to english. there is not a single person here who does not speak english - still swedish is our main languagae and english is only used when we go on holidays or meet people here that are visiting. To do all the education in 2 languages though - that might be too much. BUT learning a secound one is never wrong!
4 people like this
• United States
1 Apr 07
Bless ur tongue Marie, most countries require students to be equiped with two languages or more... native tongue and English or french or both.... in Amercia ur either either admired for that but still think it is not necessary or say u dont need another language
4 people like this
• United States
1 Apr 07
I agree with you.Being bilingual is a blessing not a curse.If Newt and others like him want to ignore our citizens that don't speak English, they can ignore them.Newt and others like them don't get it.The harder they make it to vote, the more distance there will be between them and the public. And they need the public to be interested in what they are trying to do or they will be trying to set laws that half the citizens won't know are laws or won't follow.
4 people like this
• United States
3 Apr 07
But it's not CITIZENS that don't speak English. One of the requirements to become a US citizen in the first place is to learn to speak English. This backlash all comes from the illegals, which in my area of the USA is a terrible problem. People are getting very angry that this country is bending over backward to help illegals while so many of our own citizens are in need.
1 person likes this
• United States
1 Apr 07
I am not an advocate of bi-lingual education. If you live here you should speak english. If you can't speak English you have no right to be voting. We as a country spend extravagant amounts of money on things like bi-lingual education while the number of homeless rises, medical care is unavailable to the average citizen, and teenage pregnancy rises as well as the dropout rate. Just one of those things that doesn't make sense to me, sorry.
@estherlou (5017)
• United States
1 Apr 07
Forcing the US population into paying for bilingual education is the straw that broke the camel's back! It has always been one of my pet peeves that in some places, you couldn't even get a job in a gas station without being bilingual! We started getting two or more languages on our paper towels and toilet paper a few years ago! When I went to Paris with our church choir, we visited the Louvre. One of the most famous and well-known museums in the world. Do you think they had any descriptions or titles in English? Not! Only in French. I don't think I minded so much all of the catering to those who didn't speak Englich until last year, when we saw in the news people flying the Mexican flag and yelling against the US while living in our country. Enough is enough! Don't you have to be a citizen to vote? Then you need to read and write English!
3 people like this
@naty1941 (2336)
• United States
2 Apr 07
Thank you for your response but where I come from, Puerto Rico, we have two offical languages Spanish and English and when an American comes to visit we speak to them in English as a courtesy. It also is good public relations as they will spend more money in the Island.
1 person likes this
@Destiny007 (5820)
• United States
1 Apr 07
I don't agree with the ghetto language part, but I do agree with the rest. The US needs an official language, and that needs to be the language used for business and and government. If a person wants to learn a second language, that was possible when I was in high school. At that time it was a choice between French and Spanish. How many languages do you think should be included in this bilingual education? Other countries would seem to suggest more than just Spanish, but the bi in bilingual would signify just two languages being taught. So lets get a little bit real here. What we are really talking about is teaching Spanish and English at the same time so our children would have to learn Spanish in order to be able to communicate with the children of the illegals. It used to be a requirement that people seeking citizenship learn English, but I guess that would be asking too much of the poor unfortunate illegals that we are now mandated to provide free education for.
3 people like this
@venshida (4837)
• United States
1 Apr 07
I am not in favor of billingual education. I think its costing the tax payers to much money. Every citizen of the U.S. whose language is not english should learn it at their own expense. Newt is down right rude and arrogant to use the remarks he did.
@mmiller26 (1932)
• Canada
1 Apr 07
I think bilingualism is a wonderful thing. Learning another language is difficult, and I don't think Americans are aware of how difficult it is because they have a reluctance to learn anything else. They feel that everything should be catered to them, which I feel is wrong. People all over the world have learned English so they can communicate in that language, even in their own countries where Americans travel, but Americans refuse to learn anything to accommodate anyone else. Communication is key to personal interaction and the United States is growing ever more insular. I grew up in the States and took Spanish in high school, and that knowledge has helped me immensely in being able to speak to people who don't speak much English, but also in learning how to speak French. Canada has two official languages and French is taught in school as well as English, so most people who grow up here have a basic understanding of both languages. In cases where children are born to immigrant parents and speak languages besides English and French, these kids may know even three languages. How is knowledge a bad thing? When was it decided that being willfully ignorant of the rest of the world was a good idea? There will never be one universal language. In order for people to communicate and get along, there has to be willingness on both sides to make an effort to learn to speak to each other. My son was born in Quebec. Most of Quebec is exclusively french speaking, though a lot of people have learned English in order to deal with people who don't speak french. And when I moved there, all I heard from the english speaking people was how the french were rude and would treat me badly because I didn't speak french. What I learned, however, was that people were rude because the english speaking people DEMANDED that the french people speak to them in english and refused to try to learn any french. My experience was vastly different, because while I couldn't speak it well (okay, I butchered the language), at least I was willing to try to speak it, and that effort was appreciated. I was treated well. In fact, I was treated better there than I've ever been treated anywhere else, including the States where I grew up. In conclusion, Gingrich's comments were ignorant. Bilingualism will only help our future generations to be able to speak and interact with each other. Americans need to stop isolating themselves from other countries and other cultures, and they especially need to stop thinking that the entire world should cater to them.
3 people like this
• United States
1 Apr 07
that remark it totally wrong it has some truth to it; it is very important that all students speak english fluently since American is the language communicated here, yet u think only couple or three states if not less recognize English as the official language in a passed bill... USA has no official language meaning for example if i choose to write and sing the national anthem in chinise i have every right.... I was just on spring break in Miami last week, it ticks me off that you need to soeak spanish fluently to communicate with ppl.... he has to look up the word ghetto in the dictionary it means ppl living in poverty in certain areas not their language and ethnicity
3 people like this
@nietske (199)
• Belgium
3 Apr 07
In my home country, Belgium, we have three national languages, Germand, Dutch and French. We are obligated to learn three languages at school, namely French, Dutch and English. THe majority of classes are held in Dutch though. You always get the opportonity to study German or Spanish as an extra course. This type of education got me to speak four languages and helps me out a lot, so i think it is a good idea.
2 people like this
• United States
1 Apr 07
We absolutly should be using a bi ligual education system. In fact, I think that we should be tri-lingual and that the third language should be ASL. We are living in a global society. The Japanese know it and their students are required to learn our language. I see no difference.
2 people like this