Bilingual Education and Bilingualism

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The history of United States has been marked by the high number of immigrants from unique countries. The new entrant communities brought with themselves various languages expanding the languages spoken in America to extra than 200. Maybe to start we consider the Native American language that is English. Afterward, the Dutch, French, Italian, Spanish, Chinese among different groups constitute to the diversity in conversation medium in the country. However, it is common that the negatives have been heard complaining of the loss of job opportunities due to incoming immigrants (Margaret). The case probably relates to the informal jobs where no significant expertise is a qualification. On other side, scholars argue that the best way to change the world is through education. And this involves reading speaking and writing. Empirical teaching without understanding would lead to failure or considered poorly educated. It is this perspective that debates have been heated up to for introduction of bilingual education to younger pupils despite constant oppositions (Nieto 62). Therefore, this essay will explore the benefits of undertaking bilingual education rather than the monolingual system.

In the 1960s the Orthodox educators started a nationwide debate towards the adoption of bilingual education. They argued that children should be given instruction in their native languages until the time they are well-versed to understand English (Nieto 64). Using mother tongue in teaching gave the child sense of belonging that assists in the development of cognitive skill and curb academic downwards or dropouts (Peter 13). The theory suggested that English to be taught as a second language and the point of transition would be when the student is proficient in the tongue. Giving instructions through native languages would contribute to the development and nurture of student’s culture and heritage. For instance, reading riddles and proverbs in mother tongue made them more authentic and enjoyable.

However, there was massive resistance that English should remain the sole medium for passing instruction to promote uniformity in education. The critics emerged from the generations of earlier immigrants who supposedly passed through hard times in learning English. Also, the Anglo- Americans showed the concern of multilingualism and the possible erosion of the preserved cultures (Margaret). Besides, bilingual education would be used as a tool to promote ethnic employment in learning institutions. The adoption of the system would involve forgoing the cost of Hispanic social, political and economic equality in job provision. Therefore, the critics diverted the attention to civil rights issues that aimed at heightening the respect of cultures and tool for leveraging discrimination to the non-English speaker during jobs recruitment.

The call for bilingual education rooted from many sources. The primary demand was from the Cuban immigrants, a group considered to be more educated, required quality education that would protect the Spanish-Cubans’ culture simultaneously (Nieto 62). They claimed that bilingual education was vital in gaining the sense of self-esteem for the Hispanics poor students in a country where Spanish speakers have been depicted as stereotypes by various book authors, television programs, instructors and advertisers (Peter 30). The vigilant attacks for the launch of the system took place in 1960 when the student’s unrest and riots overflowed all over the country. It advocated for third political power through La Raza Unida in Chicago regions.

Ideally, bilingual education system gained support due to the continued academic poor performance and dropouts among the Puerto Ricans and Chicano students. The Spanish instructors outlined various reasons possible grounds for the increased school dropouts (Margaret). Due to lack of knowledge of English language, many Spanish students fell behind academically, thus dropping out in high school or colleges. The students laid complaints against teacher’s bad attitude towards pronunciation, accent and skin colors. The Spanish speaker did not hear English in their daily use hence could be learned little through reading and writing by further forecasting of ultimate education futility they opted to leave school and seek for casual jobs (Nieto 65). Ultimately, the weak environment customized by illegitimacy abandoned children and single parents contributed to moving of schools. Therefore, such student required a favorable mode of passing instruction at lower levels.

Increased foreign-born children unable to speak in English triggered the need for the bicultural education system. For instance, the San Francisco Unified District School recorded an enrollment history of 27,786 students in 1980s. Among the population, 52 percent could not speak English (Peter 47). Consequently, the Spanish-speaking intellectuals in conjunction with universities demanded affirmative actions in developing bilingual programs and employment opportunities. The federal government responded in 1978 by drafting Bilingual Education Act entailing 68 languages and funding programs to the instructors. The program facilitated Saturday morning classes and subsidized private institutions offering bilingual education.


In summary, the need for bilingual school system came with various tangible ideas. Among them, monolingual education despite providing uniformity in evaluation looked out many students with the non-English speaking background. The system undermined the cultural development as well as the self-esteem to new immigrant students in schools (Nieto 63: Peter 47). It is evident that opposes to the system staged self-interest such as loss of jobs and past hardship experiences in learning English. In my opinion, the bilingual system of education has more pros than cons that make it useful in passing instructions till such a time the student is well versed with English.

Works Cited

Nieto, David. “A brief history of bilingual education in the United States.” Urban Ed Journal 61 (2000): 61-65.

Margaret Scott. “Why America Needs Bilingual Education.” Mount Holyoke Collge. (2002). Accessed on 08/05/2017

Peter J. Duignan. Bilingual Education: A critique. Published on Tuesday, September 1, 1998. Accessed on 08/05/2017.

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