Saturday, October 25, 2008

Heath Dollar: Two languages: one future

This ESL teacher writes about dual-immersion language classrooms. Equal numbers of English and Spanish speaking students are in the same classroom and are taught all their courses in both languages. They eventually are completly bilingual. The main problem is that there are not enough bilingual teachers. DP

By Heath Dollar, he teaches ESL at Schrade Middle School in Rowlett, inside the Garland ISD. In America's classrooms, the issue of immigration is post-political. The simple fact is that immigrant children attend this country's public schools, and our teachers are contractually obliged to educate them.

To help both immigrant and native students realize their potential, a dual-immersion system should be incorporated in America's schools. In a typical dual-immersion system, equal numbers of Spanish- and English-speaking elementary school students are placed in the same classroom and taught in both languages, usually for a period of six to seven years. The long-term result is fully bilingual children who often outperform their peers in science, math and reading.

This system, of course, could be implemented for any significantly large language population, be it Vietnamese, Russian, Chinese or any other sizable community.

With our world becoming more globalized and interdependent, jobs are at stake. In foreign trade, bilingual and multilingual personnel can open new markets and enable American companies to better compete in a global market.

And there's another benefit. Perhaps cultures will come to accept one another. Perhaps language will no longer be a wall, a boundary that blocks discourse and understanding. Perhaps America can avoid the racial and ethnic strife that often accompanies linguistic difference. By embracing our immigrant cultures' linguistic assets, America can become a stronger, better nation.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

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