Monday, February 06, 2006

Little sponges

A very interesting piece saying that different programs work in different schools. There should be flexibility and the decision should be left to the local educators. Something must be done to slow the drop out rate of Hispanic children. DP

Politics should not determine how we teach English to Spanish-speaking children.

Houston Chronicle: Texas requires school districts to offer bilingual education classes in cases in which a school has 20 or more limited-English students in the same grade. Districts receive additional state funding for teaching these students, so it makes sense to examine periodically whether these special programs are having desired outcomes.

As state board member Gail Lowe said, "It's incumbent on us to be informed about successful programs."

But board members also must pay attention to what does not work well. They might find no teaching method is a good fit in every situation.

For example, immersion advocates point out that young minds absorb new languages like sponges when they are surrounded by foreign speakers. But in Houston, Spanish-speaking students predominate at a number of elementary schools. Even if students received their lessons in English, they'd still be immersed in their native language on the playground, in the cafeteria, at home and in their community. Some bilingual instruction is essential in this environment.

Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

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