Definition:
Bi-Lingual Education vs. English Immersion Instruction
Adversity.Net, Inc. for Victims of Reverse Discrimination
          The terms "Bilingual Education" and "English Immersion Instruction" represent very different approaches to teaching U.S. students whose native language is not English.

          Unfortunately, both of these terms have been imbued with politically-correct interpretations which have nothing to do with the actual meaning of these terms.

The Definitions:

Bi-Lingual Education (below)

English-Immersion Instruction (below)


Bi-Lingual Education: Definition
See Also English-Immersion Definition, below

          So-called "Bi-Lingual Education" programs force limited speakers of English to be assigned to a class or classroom where they learn to speak, read and write in their home language before learning English.  In other words, they don't learn English in these classes.

          For example, Spanish-speaking immigrant children are required to remain in "Spanish-only" classrooms, receiving instruction exclusively in Spanish, for up to four years, and even longer for some.  Only after the student is designated as being fluent in English would such a child's instruction in English-only begin in earnest.  

Common Criticisms of "Bi-Lingual Education"

Some research indicates that immigrant students who have been subjected to traditional Bi-Lingual Education often find that they are well behind the performance of other students in academic subjects once the students are finally "main streamed" into English-only classrooms.

Critics have called Bi-Lingual Education "racial segregation" and compare putting immigrant students into non-English speaking classes to the outlawed practice of putting blacks into black-only classes. 

English-Immersion Instruction:  Definition
See Also Bi-Lingual Education Definition, above

          "English-Immersion" programs place immigrant school children who have limited skills in the English language (e.g., Spanish-speaking immigrants) to be taught overwhelmingly in English in order to shorten the length of time these children have to spend not understanding the dominant language in our culture and in our educational institutions.

          Under "English-Immersion", school children who are not proficient in English are required to be taught for at least one year in a structured English-immersion classroom where they are primarily taught to read, write and speak English. 

          When these students demonstrate proficiency in English they are then assigned to a "mainstream" class in which teaching of traditional academic subjects such as math, geography, and social studies is conducted exclusively in English. 

Common Criticisms of "English-Immersion" Instruction

Opponents of English-Immersion Instruction (including supporters of traditional Bi-Lingual Education) point out that immigrant children's families must support and reinforce the child's efforts to learn English when the child is outside of school (i.e., while at home).  Without support and encouragement of the immigrant child's family to learn English, critics suggest that English Immersion Instruction will fail and immigrant students would thus have been better off learning their U.S. school courses in Spanish.

          California's successful Proposition 227 initiative mandated "English-Immersion Instruction" for non-native speakers of English in our schools.  Some current educational research results seem to indicate that immigrant students who are non-native speakers of English perform much better in "main stream" classroom settings after one or more years of "English-Immersion Instruction" than students who were subjected to traditional "Bi-Lingual Education".

          At this writing, the State of Colorado's Amendment 31 -- worded very similarly to California's Proposition 227 -- is on the Nov. 2002 Colorado ballot and is aimed at replacing traditional Bi-Lingual Education programs with intensive English-Immersion Instruction classes for immigrant students.

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