Of late, bilingual education has become a topic of critical scrutiny among educators, scholars, parents, teachers, and various educational organizations. Understanding this type of education system will help us to take an unbiased stand on its effectiveness. The debate on this topic has been in existence in the media since 1960s.
The pros and cons are believed to have originated from two acts, the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Bilingual Education Act (1968) that played a dominant role in shaping laws for this type of education.
For the uninitiated, in this type of education, students are taught over a period of time in their native language, and English is treated as a second language, taught side by side and only when the student is believed to have attained proficiency in the native language, so that he can master English easily.
Bilingual education is any educational system that favors education in more than one language. According to its proponents, the most important benefit of this system is that a student who is from a non-English speaking background, can easily learn English, owing to his language development in his native language as well as in English.
And isn't it good to be proficient in various languages? What problem does it create if a student is well conversant in English and in his mother tongue? Besides that, a child who is exposed to multiple languages will be able to develop a better sense of appreciating various cultures and understanding societies.
After all, now we're living in a global world and so being multilingual is always an asset in firms and businesses. Added to these advantages, the child can easily use his native language in groups and he won't feel ashamed of it. In case he is just aware of one language, he may face problems of hesitation in expressing himself.
It's a beautiful form of education, as minority speakers can learn English even while being able to strengthen their cultural bonds by being proficient in their mother tongue.
Undoubtedly, this is a very expensive form of education. It is because of the fact that if one dominant language is taught in schools, then definitely the costs incurred will be less than teaching at least 120 multiple languages in different states. Opponents generally say that millions of dollars are wasted by focusing on this form of education.
It is also said that although minority speakers wish to learn English, they don't wish to enter mainstream society, and hence they stick to their native language. Nonetheless, there is not much validity in this argument as being proficient in the native language is not a problem in learning English.
People who're against this form of education believe that English can't be taught without following the 'immersion approach' of education, that is the student must be totally involved in studying it instead of any other language. This is due to the fact that students may get confused in learning various languages.
As we can see, there are various pros and cons of this system. The debate on this form of education is an ongoing one and is often in the news. Owing to immigration and cultural interaction, dealing with this topic may not be a very easy issue for the US government.