Dual Language SchoolsDismissing Misconceptions on Dual Language Programs: January Book of the Month: Why Dual Language Schooling

01/2019
Author Photo: Wayne Thomas and Virginia Collier
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Main Image for Article: Dismissing Misconceptions on Dual Language Programs: January Book of the Month: Why Dual Language Schooling

The programs are just as beneficial for non-native English speakers as they are for native English speakers. Students in these programs, both English speakers and English learners, do significantly better than their peers who are not enrolled in a dual language program, and it seems to have a lot to do with the type of teaching that's done in dual language classes. Here, teachers are proven to be very innovative, as they must provide clues for meaning beyond what the typical teachers does for their students; they have many strategies for teaching second language learners that help all students.

Virginia Collier, not only speaks as an advocate and researcher, but also as a parent to a former dual language-educated student. Collier spent five years of her childhood in Central America, yet it never occurred to her to send her children through a dual language program. It wasn't until a program was initiated in their community when she got involved. She recalls having an incredible experience with wonderful teachers and a strong, close-knit community of parents. Likewise, her daughter is thriving professionally, and has been able to use her bilingual education to make advances in her career.

Article Image: Why Dual Language Schooling by Virginia Collier

With the current political climate and all that has been occurring with immigration and DACA, it is an interesting time for dual education programs and advocates, which has created some negative perception surrounding a dual language education. However, Collier and Thomas share an interesting perspective on the case.

From their perspective, the federal government – and the administrations in office within the past 20 years – has been distant and indifferent to bilingual programs; they believe that the reason behind this is because in the US Constitution, education is not an enumerated federal power. The 10th Amendment states that if something is not explicitly mentioned as federal duty in the constitution, then it is reserved to the people and the states; hence, educational matters are decided at the state level. The federal government only contributes about seven or eight percent of total funding towards education, and the rest is funded by the state.

There is an English-only movement that is much less active than it has been in the past, and in place, bilingualism is becoming incredibly popular in many states. Unfortunately, though, there is a huge bilingual teacher shortage nationally. That being said, people are still stepping up and bringing new leadership to the front. There is a strong attitude in favor of bilingual education, an attitude that has changed drastically within the past two decades.

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