Example Essay Bilingual Education

Bilingual Education

The form of education is that which involves the presentation of information to students in schools and other learning institutions in more than one language. Some school may use two languages while others opt to go for more than two languages. Simply, the bilingual system is that teaching and learning involve the use of more than one language. The extent of defining how bilingual a system or institution thus depends on the degree to which many languages are in use. Opponents of bilingual system think of it as expensive and wasteful. Some think that use of other languages other to the one the children are used to will slow their learning and, therefore, are against the bilingual system. Supporters of the system, on the other hand, believe that teaching children using multiple languages enhance learning process and students understanding. They say that the children have a chance to learn a new language and can use their mother tongue and the other learnt language to enhance their skills and knowledge in language too.

The Need for Bilingual Education

Currently, the global society needs communication skills and knowledge of more than one language fluency. Bilingual systems can save the situations. Education systems can be bilingual to ensure that the youths are ready for the global society when they are out of schools. Not only does the system improve language knowledge, but it also enhances communication skills and thus preparing youths to face the world.

Advantages of Bilingual Education

Monolingual people have reduced as many people have the fluency in more than one language. Bilingual education is essential for reading readiness in students. A bilingual system encourages reading and understanding skills. Sound awareness and language use are thus easier for students in schools. A student is also able to comprehend information and translate into another language. These students after school maintain their reading abilities and fluency. When you are bilingual, you have a better passport to the world than other people who are monolingual. Though English is common in most states, there are other languages that are on the list of common and popular languages you can learn. Students are in a position to learn the new language and have the fluency if the system is introduced as early as seven years of age. Delayed dementia according to research is a way of delaying and reducing the chances of dementia. The system also helps in boosting the focus of the child.

Understanding Bilingual Education
1. Analyzing Purposes of Bilingual Education (This paper)
2. Analyzing Types of Bilingual Education
3. Analyzing Cases of Bilingual Education

 

Introduction to Bilingual Education

Bilingualism is the study of languages in contact, typically in situations where people from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds share the same space. Bilingualism was analyzed into four levels in another paper: individual, family, societal, and school levels (McCarty, 2010b). Bilingual education is bilingualism at the school level. It is not to be confused with bilingual child-raising (Pearson, 2008; McCarty, 2010a), such as speaking two languages to an infant systematically at home, which is bilingualism at the family level. Bilingual education should involve teaching in two or more languages in a school, that is, more than one language as the medium of instruction for students to learn regular school subjects.


However, other levels of bilingualism, including their cultural dimensions, do influence bilingual education. All people have a cultural identity and a linguistic repertoire, the languages they can use to some extent. Grosjean (1982) explains that "language is not just an instrument of communication. It is also a symbol of social or group identity, an emblem of group membership and solidarity" (p. 117). As a result, the attitudes people have toward different languages tend to reflect the way they perceive members of the other language groups.


Furthermore, languages have a relative status or value as perceived by the majority of a society. Languages are regarded as useless or attractive according to the economic power or cultural prestige attributed to them by the mainstream of a society, which tends to privilege national or international languages. Native languages of children of immigrants may seem to be of no use, and tend to be disregarded, while languages that are valued by the mainstream society tend to be used in education. However, Sweden has offered educational support in 100 languages (Yukawa, 2000, p. 47), while Japan's limited support has been nearly all in the Japanese language. This shows that it is not a matter of wealth but of the dominant way of thinking in the nation. The contrast in treating minority students can be as stark as a choice between assimilation and multicultural policies (Grosjean, 1982, p. 207).

 

Various Purposes of Bilingual Education


There are "varying aims of bilingual education" because it "does not necessarily concern the balanced use of two languages in the classroom. Behind bilingual education are varying and conflicting philosophies and politics of what education is for" (Baker, 2001, p. 193). These different purposes then lead to various actual school systems of monolingual or bilingual education. Ten typical aims of bilingual education were cited by Baker:

Varying Aims of Bilingual Education
  1. To assimilate individuals or groups into the mainstream of society.
  2. To unify a multilingual society.
  3. To enable people to communicate with the outside world.
  4. To provide language skills which are marketable, aiding employment and status.
  5. To preserve ethnic and religious identity.
  6. To reconcile and mediate between different linguistic and political communities.
  7. To spread the use of a colonial language.
  8. To strengthen elite groups and preserve their position in society.
  9. To give equal status in law to languages of unequal status in daily life.
  10. To deepen understanding of language and culture. (adapted from Baker, 2001, p. 193)


As can be seen from the above list, there are many and diverse purposes for conducting school programs that are called bilingual education, according to the way of thinking of decision makers in different cultures. Grosjean summarizes how implicit government policies affect the languages used in education: "Depending on the political aims of the authorities (national or regional), some minority groups are able to have their children taught in their own language, while others are not" (1982, p. 207). "If the government's aim is to unify the country, assimilate minorities, or spread the national language, more often than not minority languages will not find their place in education" (p. 207). Whereas, "if a society wants to preserve ethnic identities, give equal status to all languages and cultures in the country, revive a language, teach a foreign language more efficiently, or make its citizens bilingual and bicultural, it will often develop educational programs that employ two languages and are based on two cultures" (p. 215).

 

Conclusion to the First Paper on Bilingual Education


As Grosjean identifies the key issues above, the concerns of bilingualism researchers and practitioners shine through. A society may be judged by how it treats its minorities or protects the human rights of its vulnerable members. Some purposes for selecting languages to use in education may be better than others from both ethical and pedagogical perspectives. In any case, analyzing the diverse purposes behind the languages that appear in schools can deepen the understanding of resulting educational systems in the world, and possibly suggest improvements in terms of bilingual education.

 

 

References

  • Baker, C. (2001). Foundations of bilingual education and bilingualism (3rd ed.). Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
  • Grosjean, F. (1982). Life with two languages. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
  • McCarty, S. (2010a). Bilingual child-raising possibilities in Japan. Child Research Net: Research Papers.
  • McCarty, S. (2010b). Bilingualism concepts and viewpoints. Child Research Net: Research Papers.
  • Pearson, B.Z. (2008). Raising a Bilingual Child. New York: Living Language.
  • Yukawa, E. (2000). Bilingual education in Sweden. In S. Ryan (Ed.), The best of Bilingual Japan, (pp. 45-47). Osaka: Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT) Bilingualism SIG.

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