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U.S. instruction of students learning English bleak

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By CHRISTINE ARMARIO

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11 Comments
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A very interesting article - thank you!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Interesting but I wouldn't call non english speakers "nonwhites" :s

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There are many factors at play here that are NOT addressed in the article. Unfortunately, very little is mentioned about the Asian immigrant students learning English. In many, if not most instances, Asian immigrant students are not offered full-immersion bilingual programs (most are Spanish-English) yet the dropout rate is extremely LOW for these students. They assimilate and many go to college. Though many are poor, the families' work ethic and attitude toward education is what makes them successful. The expectation is to learn English and do well in school. Many of the families have waited and fought through the immigration process and have a strong sense of appreciation for the opportunities given to them. On the other hand many Latino immigrants, also poor but unlike their Asian peers, are afforded full-immersion bilingual programs, services both in the school and community in both English and Spanish, yet continually show poor academic performance as a group. The family attitude toward education, even with all the "extras", does not show the same eagerness for assimilation and academic success-even after several generations. One could argue that the very same programs put in place to help are most often serving as a barrier to their success. These programs while great in theory, are plagued with incompetent bilingual teachers and serve to only isolate these students further, delaying their English acquisition and their academic success. As the US education system has become a more test-driven system where everyone is expected to go to college, there is even more frustration since the DEPTH of English ability that must be acquired is just not attainable when a large part of the day is used teaching both concepts and applications in Spanish. I feel that many school districts also take advantage of this as well, promising wonderful bilingual results to parents--most uneducated but trusting to the schools. There is a lot of federal funding available for these schools with students in such programs. It also makes good sense politically while pandering to the (future) Latino voters. I will say that I have personally known college educated parents from Latin America have to fight the school district to keep their kid out of one of these programs. They knew of the poor results and knew that the key to success was in-depth English learning and assimilation with their new American peers. As many of the readers of JT are both bilingual and well-educated and/or have bilingual children, we know that it takes more than just a school resources to make one successful academically. I think the vast majority value bilingualism yet we must be realistic when it comes to the degree we can achieve it, especially considering the attitudes and priorities toward education. We are losing many students (drop outs), especially Latinos, due to these "feel good" programs which ultimately produce kids that are not academically proficient in either language. Here is a very interesting article from the LA Times a few years back. I personally liked it in that the kids honestly address issues from their points of view in a very matter of fact way. It is interesting to see the consternation shown by experts in the field and educators. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lincoln16-2008jul16,0,7098728,full.story

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I agree with Otroyo.... way too many factors that impact English learners in the US. I grew up in Texas and I can tell you that every ESL student I new as a student did not spend a long time in ESL classes. They were able to join regular classes in many cases within a year. IN many cases there study habits were the biggest problem, I know this because I spent a lot of time with them after school....not studying; ) Also this is looking at academic proficiency and not functional English needed for every day life. Too many factors for this article... this topic could fill a good library.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As you can see by the mistakes... knew and their....not only ESL students are poor at academic English: )

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On the one hand, OK, so maybe the education isn't all that great. On the other hand, they LIVE there, so how hard can it be to pick up.

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Depending on couple factors (where you live, your job and income, and your background) you can very easily get by not speaking English in the US. A bigger issue is that many services are starting to require/prefer workers to be bilingual or have a basic knowledge of a second language (namely spanish, but also French, Russian, Creole). It's complex on all sides.

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If you really want to become fluent in English you have to go to an English-only school and be totally immersed in the language all day. The children can learn Spanish or whatever at home.

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Just 7% of fourth-grade and 3% of eighth-grade English learners scored “proficient” or above in a nationwide reading exam, and thousands languish for years in ineffective English-as-a-second-language programs.

I'It might be interesting to see those numbers compared to regular students' results.

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IF you look at americas growing population from across the border you can understand why "most americans" don't understand english because now it has become Spanglish! In the home most from latin countries speak spanish in the home not english because their parents don't speak english and don't care to learn it! So there goes the american education system its getting dummer and dummer!!

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i'm a natural born american as is my whole family and i went to a bilingual school in the 6th grade. coming from an english only environment and being put in to bilingual one was a big culture shock for me. the class was taught in english and spanish. the teacher was bilingual and the was a hispanic teaching aide. each grade had 2 bilingual class and one english only class. when i transferred in to that school i was placed in the bilingual class with all the other minority students. the fact that i wasn't of latin origin did not matter. all the white kids were placed in the english only classes. my dad was in the military so we moved around a lot and i went to 6 different elementary schools, and 2 junior high schools. but being in a bilingual class was rough and at first i really hated it. i had spanish in the 6th and 7th grades and 3 years in high school. by the time i got to college i only had to take 1 semester of spanish instead of 2 years to fufill the foreign language requirements. right out of college i ended up working at a hospital which treated a largely hispanic population and i ended up translating for the patients. now i work on the international concourse at an airport where i end up translating for the spanish speaking passengers. and i'm not fluent at all and i read it better than i speak it. i only spoke spanish at school as nobody else in my family speaks it . my cousin who went to the same elementary school starting from kindergarten until graduation is fluent in spanish. i think bilingual education should be mandatory for everyone. for the usa it makes since that spanish be our second language since the southern half of our country used to belong to mexico and south america is made up of spanish speaking countries. canada is bilingual as are a lot of european countries.being exposed to another language early on is very beneficial for social development and is practical for business purposes. of course it doesn't have to be spanish and now a days it should probably be chinese. especially with all the money we owe china. if they ever call in our debt will all be learning madarin.

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