Bilingualism In The U.S. Bilingualism Term Paper

Length: 12 pages Sources: 6 Subject: Communication - Language Type: Term Paper Paper: #23445573 Related Topics: Multiculturalism, Bilingual Education, English Language Learners, Immigration Reform
Excerpt from Term Paper :


One Turning Point One prominent turning point for the opposition of bilingualism occurred with Peal and Lambert's (1962) study, as after their study, "bilingualism became recognized as having a cognitive advantage. (Palij and Homel, 1987; cited by Takakuwa, 2000) Peal and Lambert (1962; cited by Takakuwa, 2000) studied ten-year-olds from French schools in Montreal, Canada, and found that on 15 out of 18 measures of intelligence, scores of their participating bilingual group totaled higher than the monolingual group. No differences were found between the two groups on the other measures in their study, however, on measures of both verbal and nonverbal intelligence. The bilingual group's scores totaled higher than the monolingual group. Recent research on bilingualism reveals an opposing view continues to challenge bilingualism's positive effect on children's cognitive development. (Bialystok 1988; Day and Shapson 1996; Palij and Home, 1987; cited byTakakuwa, 2000) Findings from Peal and Lambert (1962; cited by Takakuwa, 2000), albeit, clearly contradicts results of previous research, purporting that bilingual children were considered cognitively inferior to monolingual children.

Bilingualism Links to Multiculturalism Bilingualism, which intricately links to multiculturalism, does not only constitute academic phenomena, but also fosters attitudes which profoundly impact social as well as intellectual consequences. One consequence, "a sharp rise in the phenomenon of immigration without -- or with only partial - assimilation: a dangerous demographic trend that threatens American identity in the most basic way." (Kimball) Imperfect loyalty, Kimball contends, adds up to the price of imperfect assimilation, one of the negative impacts of bilingualism in the U.S. Consequently, imperfectly assimilation deserts its supposed beneficiaries and leaves them basically monolingual, sometimes semi-lingual. Kimball contends that the routine occurrence of a choice being given whether to listen to a message in English or Spanish reflects still another small setback for American identity. Bilingual education, for some immigrants to the U.S., consigns a large number of immigrant children to failure. At one time in the U.S., mastery of the English language was perceived to be the great national unifier and a bridge for an individual to cross and reach success. Now, to some, mastery of the U.S. language has come to symbolize cultural oppression. "Today, bilingual education caters mainly to Hispanic students - the very same group that now suffers a higher high-school dropout rate than any other ethnic group in California." (Telzrow) Despite protests from immigrant parents who, like their European predecessors, "are aware of the necessity to learn English as quickly as possible." (Telzrow)

The NABE the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE) reported as the only national U.S. professional organization "devoted to representing bilingual learners and bilingual education professionals...has affiliates in 25 states which collectively represent more than 20,000 members that include Bilingual and English Language Learner (ELL) teachers, parents, paraprofessionals, administrators, professors, advocates, researchers, and policy makers." ("Mission," 2006) NABE states that its mission is to advocate for the United States' Bilingual and English Language Learners and their families through support of and promotion of policy, programs, pedagogy, research, and professional development contributing to academic success, while cultivating a multilingual multicultural society. The NABE also proposes to value a Bilingual and English Language Learners' native language, "lead to English proficiency, and respect cultural and linguistic diversity." ("Mission," 2006) the NABE works to influence and create policies, programs, research, pedagogy and professional development, with the expectation it is investing in American children's education, the U.S.S.' leadership, as well as, contributing to the world's overall well being. By using native and second languages in everyday life, the NABE stresses, Americans not only develop intercultural understanding, but reflect by their example they respect and are able to effectively cross cultural and linguistic borders. As the U.S. constitutes part of a global society, the NABE posits, "Bilingualism and Biliteracy for ALL is an admirable goal for every individual." ("Mission," 2006) the NABE advocates for U.S. citizens to...


remains "at the cutting edge in living and creating unity within diversity." ("Mission," 2006)

Bilingual Education

On its Web site, the National Association for Bilingual Education explains that being bilingual consists of using two languages for a variety of social and pedagogical purposes. In contemporary context during the current period of demographic transformation in the U.S., as well as, in bilingual education, albeit, bilingual reflects something more specific and relates to classroom strategies utilizing the native languages of English language learners (ELLs) for instruction. Reported goals include ("What is Bilingual Education?"):

teaching English, fostering academic achievement, acculturating immigrants to a new society, preserving a minority group's linguistic and cultural heritage, enabling English speakers to learn a second language, developing national language resources, or any combination of the above. ("What is Bilingual Education?")

Significant variations in bilingual education include:

Sometimes the transition to the all-English mainstream is rapid (one to three years), sometimes gradual (five to six years).

Classrooms may be composed entirely of ELLs, or they may include native English speakers who are learning Spanish, Chinese, Navajo, or some other language.

Students are sometimes taught a full curriculum in their native language and in English. Elsewhere ELLs may receive only native-language support - periodic translations or tutoring - with lessons conducted primarily in English. ("What is Bilingual Education?")

Bilingual education is considered effective as past generational research over the past consistently confirms that "developing ELLs' native-language skills leads to higher levels of academic achievement, as well as proficient bilingualism and biliteracy - increasingly valuable skills in today's global economy. ("What is Bilingual Education?")


In America] individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labours and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world.

J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer, 1782"


Recounting Challenges

Linton's reflections on historical events leading to bilingualism in the U.S. date back to 1906, more than 100 years ago when Congress decreed that an English-language requirement be met for an individual to secure American citizenship. Since that time:

In 1907, the Dillingham Commission studied how immigration impacted the U.S.

In 191, a determination was purported " that new immigration consisted mostly of 'inferior peoples' who were physically, mentally, and linguistically different and would thus not easily adopt 'fundamental American ideals'." (King 2000:64; cited by Linton)

Governors issued decrees prohibiting any language other than English in public places or over the telephone be used. (Piatt 1990; cited by Linton)

1919 Nebraska statute banned teaching any language other than English before the ninth grade. (Dillard 1985; Marckwardt 1980; cited by Linton) in 1923, an Illinois law...[declared] "American" to be the state's official tongue. (Tatalovich 1995; cited by Linton) then to the Depression.... The notion that immigrants should follow this pattern became powerfully entrenched." (Linton)

Challenging Counters to Bilingualism as noted earlier in this research project, throughout history, unfounded, as well as, valid challenges to merits and/or benefits of bilingualism in the U.S. continue to reveal concerns some Americans have regarding "a different kind of who rejects assimilation and the enduring natural supremacy of the American Idea." (Telzrow) Contrary to the reported 39% noted in Telzrow's article, this researcher argues that along with the U.S. being "a country with basic American values that immigrants take on when they come here," immigrants should be afforded the right to practice bilingualism. So should native born Americans, no matter where they choose to visit, live and/or reside. Findings from the study by Peal and Lambert (1962; cited by Takakuwa, 2000), this researcher contends, does in fact; clearly contradict countering challenges against the support of bilingualism. From this research effort, the perception that bilingualism would hamper children's intellectual development, lead to psychological confusion (Laurie 1890; Saer 1923; Smith 1923, and prove harmful on cognitive development (Ausubel, Sullivan, and Ives 1980; Darcy 1953), per Takakuwa (2000), does not appear true nor solid. West's concerns regarding dangers of bilingualism and the Hispanization of America West, due to the fact Spanish constitutes America's second language merit consideration. Whether in business or in the business of daily life, the contemporary, confirmed fact that America is affected by bilingualism, does not mean, albeit, that cannot experience a sense of peace, despite "gut-checks" he/she reads about contemporary changes. As this research effort shed a bit of light on contemporary, at times, conflicting considerations about bilingualism, hopefully readers gain an increased understanding of bilingualism and Sociolinguistics. In addition, this researcher suggests, that the effects of bilingualism in the U.S., as the introductory quote insinuates (Kimball), do, in fact, reflect choices those who live in America, whether bilingual or not, have to deal with. No matter the language differences or the obvious and/or veiled effects currently challenging those who live in the U.S., bilingualism also presents opportunities for individuals and the U.S., as well as other countries to grow - no matter what the native language.

Works Cited

Behrens, Susan J; Neeman, Amy Rakowsky. "Focus on Accent: A Sociolinguistic Perspective of Diversity in the Classroom." Research &…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Behrens, Susan J; Neeman, Amy Rakowsky. "Focus on Accent: A Sociolinguistic Perspective of Diversity in the Classroom." Research & Teaching in Developmental Education, April 1, 2004. 3 May 2008


Kimball, Roger. "Institutionalizing Our Demise: America vs. Multiculturalism." New Criterion June 2004: 5+. Questia. 3 May 2008

Linton, April. "A critical mass model of bilingualism among U.S.-born Hispanics." Social Forces, September 1, 2004. 3 May 2008

Cite this Document:

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"Bilingualism In The U S Bilingualism", 04 May 2008, Accessed.22 June. 2021,

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