"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Defending bilingual education (again) in the Dallas Morning News

Research supports bilingual education (Bilingual education is better than immersion)
Published in the Dallas Morning News, December 1, 2012.

Re: L. Wooley, “An argument against increased school funding,” November 26

Contrary to Lynn Wooley’s statements, evidence for bilingual education is strong.

Wooley says scores “shot up” in Oceanside after bilingual education was dismantled in California in 1998. But scores for all students increased in California between 1998 and 2000; gains for Oceanside's English learners were similar to gains made in many districts that kept bilingual education.

The increase occurred because a new state test was introduced. The first time a new test is given, scores are low; scores then increase each year as students and teachers become more familiar with the test. After a few years, improvement stops. This happened in Oceanside and in the entire state.

Wolley notes that C. Rossell concluded that “immersion is best,” but is not aware that in her review Rossell miscategorized a number of bilingual education programs as “English immersion.” Even so, in her most recent analysis Rossell concluded that there was no difference between English immersion and bilingual education, not that bilingual education is the “least effective.” In her Texas study, differences are very small.

Every other scholar who has reviewed the research in recent years has concluded that children in bilingual education do better than children in all-English programs in English reading.

Rossana Boyd, University of North Texas
Stephen Krashen, University of Southern California (Emeritus)


Note: Wooley’s article was posted on the Tea Party Nation website.

Comment and response: http://letterstotheeditorblog.dallasnews.com/2012/12/bilingual-education-is-better-than-immersion.html/#commentzone

Jayme Skelton · Top Commenter
Ms Boyd, As an ESL and foreign language teacher, I have a question for you. Except in rare circumstances, the language group that bi-lingual education supports is Spanish-speaking. So, why is it that all other language groups can learn and flourish in ESL programs but the Spanish speaking cannot? As a secondary ESL teacher, I often had students enter my classes in 11th grade speaking little English. With strong English language instruction and support in regular subject areas, these students often graduated in two years and were able to pass all portions of TAKS by the time they were eligible to graduate. The year I worked with elementary children (young children "acquire" language very quickly), I had a kindergarten student who started the year with only a few words of English but was essentially fluent by the end of the year.

• Stephen Krashen
To Jayme Skelton: those who succeeded without bilingual education very often had "de facto" bilingual educaiton, a good educational background in their first language. Also: We do not claim that bilingual education is necessary. Our claim is that it accelerates English language development. This is supported by many many case histories, experiments, etc. For a review of all this, please see J. Crawford and S. Krashen, English Learners in American Schools (Scholastic).


  1. HOW does it accelerate English development, though? That's the big question I have.

  2. It is just faster and more efficient to learn the strategies and processes needed to read and write - in your first language. These have been shown to then be able to be transferred to literacy in English. So they do NOT have to be learned again. This Ability of Bilinguals to transfer knowledge skills understandings and learning processes WHEN taught in both languages, and WHEN shown how to do so along with the associated metacognitive thinking skills that come with working in two literacies is what causes accelerated academic achievement. In addition programes that add another language or skill to what you already have are known to be successful -programes in English only that seek to replace what learners bring to school ,including their identity self concept confidence culture with some thing else considered by schooling to be superior ALWAYS usually leads to schooling failure -See Jim Cummins work
    This is certainly also our experience in Australia and New Zealand.

    John McCaffery. Senior Lecturer, Te Kura Marautanga me te Ako: Curriculum & Pedagogy( English/Languages/ Literacy/TESOL/ Bilingual/ Immersion Education )
    Faculty of Education, Epsom Campus. Office N Block, N601 University of Auckland, Private Bag 92601, Symonds Street, Auckland 1, Aotearoa/New Zealand
    email: j.mccaffery@auckland.ac.nz

    Greetings from Aotearoa/New Zealand: "Kia Ora, Kia orana, Namaste-Ni sa bula, Taloha ni, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Malo e lelei, Halo olaketa, Kam na mauri, Ia orana, Kia ora, Talofa lava and Pacific Greetings to you all.

    Blessed with Bilingual Brains- Aroʻaʻia te reo ʻenua. Tuatua mai tuatua atu tuatua mai.