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 whom 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 of meaning beyond what the typical teacher does for their students; specifically, they have strategies for teaching second language learners.
Virginia Collier notonly 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 language education to make advances in her career.
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, as the federal government is not very supportive of immigrant students; this, in turn, has created negative attitudes 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 someone is not explicitly mentioned as federal duty in the constitution, then it is reserved to the people and the states; hence, education 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 by the state.
There is an English-only movement that is much less active as 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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