Bilingual education is when most subjects in schools are taught through the use of two different languages. This form of education is recognized throughout the world and its programs are slowly growing. There are many forms of bilingual education that several of the schools programs follow, the two main types are: Transitional bilingual education and Dual language bilingual education or also known as “two-way”.
Transitional bilingual education is when schools try to transition students into “mainstream, English-only classrooms as quickly as possible.” In the United States for example, a young child that grows up in a Spanish speaking household may only recognize his or her native tongue as Spanish. When they begin to attend school, that child will be enforced to attend English speaking schools only. This is to assure that the young child will slowly transition from a Spanish speaking child into an English and Spanish speaking child. This process may be extremely difficult for the child however; it will benefit them later in their lives especially while living in the United States.
Dual bilingual education or “two-way” education is intended to help native or non-native English speaking people to learn another language and culture in an educational setting. Typically, a dual language classroom usually consists of one half of the classroom being English speaking students, and the other half of the classroom containing native speakers of a foreign language. These classrooms not only help English speaking students learn another language, they also help those students of a minority language to learn and perfect their English speaking skills as well.
Usually in a dual language class, the teachers tend to switch their language on an every other day basis; one day English, the next day Spanish and so on. Some people claim that when a young English speaking child enters a dual language program at an early age, they will become fluent in that foreign language by the time they attend middle school. One problem facing dual language education in the United States is that this form of learning is very limited and it has not spread throughout all of the schools yet.
According to Virginia P. Collier of George Mason University, “During the past two decades, rapidly increasing language minority demographics have had a major impact on the U.S. schools.” Due to population increases and budget cuts throughout the schools, there is not that much funding for dual language classes. This is such a disappointment because learning another language other than your own native tongue is extremely helpful to survive in the world we live in today. Soon enough the English language in the United States will end up becoming the minority language. To learn another language more efficiently it is very important to start learning at a very young age. It is a lot easier for a young child to learn another language other than their own rather than an adult, who has been speaking ONE language all of his or her life, and then decides to learn something new.
For a child to be educated in their language and a minority language is very important and every school district should offer some type of support for those children who do want to learn English and Spanish or English and Chinese, etc. As mentioned earlier, the minority demographics have been increasing rapidly by the day and more and more children are entering this country. If this country and every state within allowed more programs such as the dual language program into our school systems, this will greatly benefit all of our children’s lives and can also reflect on their adult lives in the long run as well.