Essay Assignment #3
22nd April 2015
Bilingual Education or Not?
The debate on whether United States should adopt the bilingual academic program whereby children speaking other languages are taught in two languages, in English and in a second, native language (Hayakawa, 1991). There have been studies and researches indicating the benefits of the bilingual academic program, particularly to the students – such as high academic scores, mental flexibility, improved personal identity etc. At the same time, there is evidence showing a number of downsides to the programs – such as double expense to the government, politicized aspects etc. The aim of this paper is to examine different aspects of the argument on the subject of bilingual programs in schools, and whether United States should make English as its official language. It also demonstrates the argumentative ability regarding the controversial issue of bilingual academic program in the United States. Honestly, I feel that the need to make English the official language of the country is preposterous. Only, because it practically is the main language of the country just unofficially.
From a general point of view, the definition of bilingualism is whereby a person possesses the ability of easily and naturally speaking in two languages, without experiencing any problem whatsoever. However, from the context of United States of America, bilingualism has a controversial definition (Fallows, 1986) whereby it mainly refers to the use of any other language aside from English in regards to public services. Some of the public services include seeking of government documents, inclusion of other languages in voting ballot, in court proceeding, and when it comes to teaching children in schools. The controversy of is dominant in the education system of United States, where there have been recent campaigns for the country to start teaching in two languages, other than English only.
Being the minority students, they tend to experience a number of challenges. For example (Crawford, 1992), it is hard for them to find teachers qualified to teach them in their native languages. Also, there is lack of enough tools and programs to enhance their education. Most of the English-learning students are usually segregated into schools specialized in teaching non-English speakers. However, such schools are always in bad, poor state in terms of infrastructure, where the schools are overcrowded. Despite all these challenges and campaigns for better learning approaches for the non-English children, the debate on the bilingual academic program has divided the United States in terms of opinions (Fallows, 1986). The approach has received serous opposition from native English speakers, and from experts preferring the English-only approach.
Educational experts opposing the bilingual educational approach include the likes of Mauro Mujica and S. I. Hayakawa. For instance, some of the supporting arguments by Hayakawa include aspects whereby teaching in one language, English, unites people of America in spite of the historical backgrounds, both the natives and the immigrants. Hayakawa continues with his arguments by stating that a common language as a medium of education has a likelihood of engaging people in democracy, where every student will feel to possess the sense social equality. At the same time, (Hayakawa, 1991) argues that the use of English as the only language in US education system has the capability of helping school-aged children to become more fluent at communicating in English, and this is because the second language tends to “confuse” the children during the lessons. Finally, S.I. Hayakawa believes that United States should not adopt the bilingual academic approach mainly because the approach is expensive.
Mauro Mujica, who believes that the United States should make English as the only language in schools and that all the other languages are to be