Advantages and Disadvantages of Bringing up Children Bilingually
Much of the debate on bilingual education is wasteful, ironic, hypocritical, and regressive. It is wasteful because instead of directing attention to sound educational practices, it has led to advocating specific "models" based solely on what language should be used for what purpose. It is ironic because most attacks on bilingual education arise from an unfounded apprehension that English will be abandoned in the United Kingdom, whereas, in fact, the rest of the world doubts the opposite; the lure of English and attention in European traditions are seen by non-English-speaking countries as a danger to their own languages and traditions. It is hypocritical for the reason that most challengers of using languages other than English for teaching furthermore want to endorse foreign language requirements for high school commencement. Additionally, it is regressive and xenophobic since the rest of the world regards ability in at least two languages to be the sign of good education. We shall expound on the debate about the advantages and disadvantages of bringing up children born to cross-national and cross-cultural parents.
The political struggle to defend the existence of bilingual education in schools has wasted much energy in the search for a "perfect" model. The recent history of bilingual education is replete with various models, all posing as panaceas. Overreliance on particular models often detracts from scrutiny of what really happens in schools. When proponents of bilingual education let themselves are drawn into the battle over language choice, they too often lose sight of what should be their central goal: providing quality education to such students in ways that integrate them into both their own and the majority culture. If educators could ignore their particular biases about language use they would discover sufficient evidence to orient them toward providing effective education in any language. They would recognize that the mission of schools is to educate students so that they have choices when they graduate. Educating bilingual students has to go beyond merely teaching them English or merely maintaining their local language. The world of professional work understands that graduates reach not only high-level literacy abilities in English, and even familiarity of other languages, but also logical ability and the aptitude to study new scenarios and concepts. Bilingual students have not just the ability but also the right to be ready to face the challenges of current society.
Disapproval of bilingual education is not all groundless (Bialystok, 2001). Some bilingual programs are unsuitable for delivering quality education even if they have graduated a few victorious students. A great deal of the credit goes to the heroic efforts of individual teachers (Brisk, 1990, 1994). Advocates must admit that many bilingual programs are substandard. Rather than submitting a comprehensive approval for programs on the foundation of whether they use the children's mother tongue, supporters of bilingual education should be selective by supporting just those programs and schools that stick to the principles of high-quality education for bilingual students. Bilingual education too frequently is victim to political, financial, and social hurdles that feed on adverse attitudes toward bilingual programs, instructors, students, their families, languages, and traditions. Such attitudes convert into school character that restricts good education for language minority students. This thesis attempts to portray specific characteristics of bilingual programs that have succeeded. Research on effective schools demonstrates that schools can stimulate academic accomplishment for students in spite of how situational issues influence them. Considerations of verbal communication and culture assist English language development without giving up the native language and the skill to happen in a cross-cultural world.
Accomplishment and assessment of bilingual education programs call for to moving beyond supporting what have too frequently become compensatory agendas. All learners, but particularly bilinguals, merit quality programs that defeat harmful stereotypes. Plentiful results from empirical research and understanding can aid in showing the way (see Table 1).
TABLE 1. School Characteristics (Source: Snow & Ferguson, 2007).
Promote Quality Bilingual Education
Limit Quality of Bilingual Education Programs
1. Administration in cooperation with faculty and community develop clear goals.
1. There are no clear goals, leaving interpretation open to ideological tendencies.
2. School creates a bilingual and bicultural society.
2. Personnel and students outside the bilingual program have poor attitudes toward program's languages and cultures. There is no explicit instruction on American culture.
3. Bilingual program is integrated with the whole school.
3. Bilingual program is segregated from the rest of the school.
4. Bilingual students are well-known by all staff.
4. Only bilingual staff knows bilingual students.
5. Administration provides leadership and supports the program.
5. Administration is unsupportive, ambivalent, or indifferent.
6. School staff sets high expectations and supports bilingual students.
6. Staff believes ability to function is related to English language proficiency or ethnic back-
7. School hires quality personnel willing to work with bilingual students.
7. Students are taught by personnel with limited understanding or skills.
8. School enjoys a productive relationship with parents and communities.
8. Parents are perceived as indifferent or uninterested. No effort is made to accommodate parents' language and culture.
9. School curricula make use of the languages and cultures of the students to promote learning.
9. Use of students' languages and cultures is limited and only within the bilingual program.
10. Bilingual students participate in a comprehensive curriculum that benefits from current educational innovations.
10. Bilingual program curriculum does not cover all the same areas as the general school curriculum.
Bilingual students do not benefit from special programs brought in for the whole school.
11. Materials are of high quality, varied, and in the language of the students as well as English.
11. Materials in the language of the students are limited and of poor quality.
12. Assessment is fair and authentic and has as a purpose improved teaching and learning.
12. Assessment is mostly standardized tests in English. Its main purpose is to enter and exit students into and from the bilingual program.
13. Instructional practices are consistent with goals of promoting language development, adjustment to both cultures, and academic achievement.
13. Instructional practices are inconsistent, depending on teachers' beliefs and knowledge.
Many bilingual programs survive because school districts must fulfil legislation and court orders. They endure in segregation within uncooperative schools where the approach toward the program is unenthusiastic and the potential of students are short. Students rebuff their individuality in schools that do not recognize their culture, but cannot take on a new one (Commins, 2009). Such students repeatedly become angry and troublesome (Brisk, 1991; McCollum, 1993). "One thinks what the achievements of such students would be if their energies were open encouraged by an environment in which they no longer wanted to deal traditions for school learning" (Heath, 2003). Well-worn and unappreciated teacher's burn out, giving way to turnover and unsteadiness in programs.
Schools with no clear goals depend on the individual educator for the superiority of the program and are more susceptible to ideological weight. Without unambiguous goals for bilingual education, disorder and dissatisfaction among staff and community are probable results. A diverse study of a group of people in California and another in the Midwest show the significance of lucid goals (Hakuta, 2009). Absence of leadership and insertion of the program leads to differences in opinion with admiration to the reason of bilingual education. When English-speaking and bilingual staff do not believe commonly in goals, a cavernous gap in communication grows among the teachers, affecting instructors, students, and communication (Watahomigie & McCarty, 2004).
Although many teachers are well qualified, increasing burden on personnel have lead to the appointment of badly qualified teachers or the salvaging of mainstream teachers with no training to educate bilingual students. Districts experience personnel satisfaction and stability when they develop bilingual programs gradually and maintain strict control of the quality of personnel. Districts that develop quickly and haphazardly without careful teacher recruitment experience excessive staff turnover, often losing their best teachers who burn out when they find themselves supporting the less prepared teachers (Hakuta, 2009). Since the program is frequently seen as corrective, curriculum is thin, materials are lacking, and appraisal is incomplete to English language growth.
Such bilingual education programs should not be supported. The bilingual education characterized in this paper should be supported not merely because it is good for bilingual students, but also because its implementation can benefit schools as a whole.
Raising Kids Bilingually
How advisable is it to raise children bilingually? What consequences are there to bilingual upbringing? Saer (1923), reported that his son Louis showed only positive consequences from having been raised in a bilingual, French-German home environment. According to his father, Louis learned to speak both languages as a native-speaking child would -- he showed very few signs of interference between languages; nor did his bilingualism have a deleterious effect on his cognitive development. His development seems to have been quite normal and it has been reported that by the age of 15 he had equal fluency in both languages (Weinreich, 1953), preferring French…