Bilingual Education: A Case Study

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A bilingual approach to education entails that academic content is taught in two languages, a native language and a second language. The two main ways that bilingual education is brought about is either by choice or necessity. The distinguishing factor is that those who are involved in bilingual education by choice are participating in “enrichment programs” (Beardsmore, 2003, p. 17), which can be called elite bilingualism. Immigrant populations and ethnic minorities are those who are involved based on necessity where “the bilingual provision is frequently temporary, often inadequate and usually stigmatized as marginal.” (Beardsmore, 2003, p. 17) This is an important distinction to make when discussing bilingual education and its successes and…show more content…
These fears are for example that a student’s educational chances will be decrease, that it will stump educational progress or affect the emotional well being of a student. (Beardsmore, 2003, p. 18) However, as Beardsmore points out, these fears do not exist in the cases of elite bilingualism. In fact, perceptions of elite bilingual education are the opposite, which can be seen in the example of Utah’s total immersion language-education initiative, which sees intense competition for spots (Kluger, 2013). This shows that the issue lies with perceptions and attitudes towards minorities, their languages and subsequent immersion into society, as opposed to a fundamental flaw in bilingual education. Also, there is nothing to support a claim that “bilingual education need neither cause nor compound educational problems” (Beardsmore, 2003, p. 19), this meaning that there are students with various learning difficulties in both bilingual and unilingual programs and that this is not something specific or unique to bilingual education. Therefore, the problems that certain bilingual programs are facing can be solved by appropriate measures being taken and by ensuring “adequate educational provisions” (Beardsmore, 2003, p.…show more content…
While it is true that academic success is possible with unilingual education, there “is absolutely no data to support the claim that students put in all-English classes made better progress than those who were ‘still stuck in bilingual ones’” (Beardsmore, 2003, p. 19). In fact, the opposite has been shown to be true. Bilingual students perform just as well as and are sometimes even outperforming their unilingual peers, while also experiencing academic advantages. Kluger notes several studies that show multilingual people are generally “better at reasoning, at multitasking, at grasping and reconciling conflicting ideas” (2013), meaning bilingual education can actually be superior to and produce better results and students than unilingual education.
A bilingual approach to education is a good policy. It is by no means a necessity for education everywhere, but when it is done right, the benefits are vast and the critique bilingual education receives are based on stereotypes and misconceptions, or backed up by faulty studies or individual experiences. While bilingual education is far from perfect and may need improvements, fundamentally it is a good policy and approach to education that opens doors for students rather than closing

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