Thursday, April 22, 2010

Prop 227 was a mistake: New Research Shows that Prop 227 was a Mistake

Stephen Krashen | Capitol Weekly (Sacramento, CA), April 18, 2010

Two studies have just appeared that show that children in bilingual programs

learn about as much English as do children in English-only programs.

One study, headed by Robert Slavin of Johns Hopkins University, compared English

learners in five states over five years who had the same program of instruction,

except that one group was taught entirely in Spanish in kindergarten, with more

English gradually introduced until the program was entirely in English by grade

three. The researchers found only very small differences between the groups on

English tests given in grades three and four. The second study, done by

Christopher Jepsen of the University of Kentucky, looked at children in

California: Those who had bilingual education did just as well as similar

children who did not on tests of English in grades four and five.

Both studies show that the children in the bilingual programs made the same

progress as comparisons in English literacy despite having less exposure to

English. This means that the time spent in Spanish made a real contribution to

English language development.

These two studies are only the most recent showing that bilingual education

works. In most of the previous research, in fact, children in bilingual

education did better on tests of English reading than comparison students did.

Bilingual programs also help children develop their first language, which is

beneficial to the individual as well as society: Bilinguals do better than

monolinguals on several kinds of tests of intelligence, and bilingualism appears

to reduce some of the negative effects of aging. Also bilingualism is an obvious

asset to business as well as national security.

In light of these findings, it is clear that approving Proposition 227, which

dismantled bilingual education in California 1997 was a mistake. The use of the

first language in school can help English language development, and at the same

time provides the advantages of bilingualism.

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