Essay about immigrant education

Submitted By daisymjy0209
Words: 2011
Pages: 9

Final Draft for the final project
April Ma
12/09/2011
Should only English be spoken all the time? Education for immigrant children in the United States

I want to start my essay with one of my experiences with an immigrant family from China. It is a young couple with a six year old child named Chris. They moved to the U.S. three years ago when Chris was three. I visited them last spring break for three days and found lots of interesting things about their parenting attitude towards Chris´s education. When I first entered Chris´s room, I noticed that there was a big phrase on the wall that said ¨only English spoken all the time¨. Chris was not allowed to speak Chinese at home. His mother told me that they wanted Chris to speak English fluently as soon as possible. If he could overcome the language barrier, he would adapt to the new environment easily. But Chris was a really shy little boy. When I greeted him, he just hid behind his mom. He seemed to have trouble getting involved in school activities too. Chris is not the only immigrant Chinese child I know who has the same problem. One of my friends works with an ESL program at an elementary school in Sunbury. He told me that two Chinese kids there never played with others but by themselves, alone. I started wondering if immersion education is really the best way to develop for the immigrant children as their parent think? Do they have other options? With those two questions, I did my literature review on immigrant children’s education. I found out that besides immersion education, there is a special program called bilingual education. According to Swain and Barik, the definition for bilingual education is “schooling provided fully or partly in a second language with the object of making students proficient in the second language while at the same time maintaining and developing their proficiency in the first language and fully guaranteeing their educational development” (Swain and Barik, 1978, p.22). This means that immigrant children will learn academic subjects in their native language while learning speaking and writing in the second language. They can use their native language to communicate with teachers and peers. On the other hand, in the immersion educational system, the child is fully embraced by the second language. All of their subjects are conducted in the second language and they only use the second language to communicate with teachers and peers. During the past 50 years, many studies have been done on these two different educational systems about their effects on the development of immigrant children. They show that bilingual education is better for the integrated development of the immigrant children. Here are three main reasons for why bilingual education is better than immersion education. The first reason for bilingual education is that it allows students to do well academically. It is obvious that people learn better with their native language than the second language. Language, as a tool of communication, can promote learning when learners can master the language, but it can also prevent learning if learners do not know how to use it. Marsh, Hau, and Kong conducted a six-year longitudinal research study in Hong Kong with 7802 high school students to see the relationship between academic self-concept, academic achievement, and language of instruction. Marsh found that students´ academic performances in non-language classes were largely affected by the full English immersion in a negative way (Marsh, Hau, and Kong, 2002). This result is not surprising. Learning academic subjects already involves many cognitive processes, and adding language learning makes the process more complex. For those immigrant children who receive immersion education, their understanding of other academic subjects is heavily dependent on their language…