April 21, 2013

Article: Instruction of Students Learning English Bleak

From http://www.timesunion.com/news/texas/article/Instruction-of-students-learning-English-bleak-4433177.php

Instruction of students learning English bleak
April 15, 2013

School-age children who speak a language other than English at home are one of the fastest-growing populations. Their numbers doubled between 1980 and 2009, and they now make up 21 percent of school-age kids.

The country is divided over the best way to educate them, with bilingual programs gathering steam but also provoking a sometimes heated debate with those who favor an English-only approach. English learner students are more likely to be in poor, overcrowded schools and in many places represent an added cost to already cash-strapped school districts.

Virginia Collier and Wayne Thomas from George Mason University in Virginia studied more than 6 million student records and found that full-immersion bilingual programs in which native and nonnative students are given instruction in both languages are the most effective. They studied bilingual programs in the Houston Independent School District and found that native-Spanish speakers were at or above grade level in English and Spanish in first grade through fifth grade.

One problem is that it's not always easy to find teachers who not only speak Spanish but also can teach and explain it academically as well. It's a challenge even in Miami, where speaking Spanish is practically a requirement for everyday life. A 1997 study found that only 2.5 percent of English-as-a-second-language teachers had a degree in bilingual or English language education.

Bilingual programs also face a political hurdle. In California, Massachusetts and Arizona, bilingual education has been banned by proponents of an English-only approach.

Read on: http://www.timesunion.com/news/texas/article/Instruction-of-students-learning-English-bleak-4433177.php#page-2

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