Essay on Bilingualism

This essay has a total of 687 words and 4 pages.


The Limitations of Language

The 14th Amendment in the United States Constitution dictates that any citizen of the
United States shall receive the equal protection of civil rights, with due process of the
law and cannot be discriminated against based upon race, origin, sex, class or political
affiliation. Thus, educational policy in the United States is focused on providing the
equal opportunities for all students. One heated debate in American education policy
making is the use of bilingual education in public schools. Because there is a growing
number of students (especially those in grade school) whose home language is not English,
major literacy and learning disparities are created when non-english speaking students
enroll in public schools that teach in English only. Students with limited English
proficiency will have to work harder to achieve the same level of other students whose
home language is English. Bilingual education is a program designed to alleviate the
educational inequalities and disparities caused by present educational system. The focus
of bilingual education is to guarantee that these students:

1. Learn the basic subjects (math, science, reading, social studies) in their home
language from the time they enter school. The advantage of teaching students with limited
English proficiency the basic subjects in their home language is that they will promote
their academic progress while learning the English language.

2. Learn to read and write in the home language first, then eventually in English. Initial
literacy skills are developed in the home language, and once the student is orally capable
in English, literacy skills will continue in both languages. The misconception is that the
student will have to learn to read all over again when studying English. This is wrong
because when English is presented to the students, they will transfer the literacy skills
gained from home language reading to English reading.

3. Begin learning English from the time they enter school. The development of oral English
skills first and then the development of English literacy skills Contrary to conservative
belief, the learning of the English language is one of the primary goals of bilingual
education. (

Bilingual education and due process came under watch with the Supreme Court case of Lau
vs. Nichols in 1973 in the city of San Francisco. According to San Francisco's state
statute, one of the major goals of the school system is the proficiency of English for all
students. However, the school system did not offer and ESL or remedial English class for
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