(Dear Colleagues,
The following appeared in USA Today, October 28. The final two paragraphs of my response were cut. I was asked to write 350 words and I wrote 348. My two cut paragraphs appear below my response. --Stephen Krashen)

Original URL: http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2002-10-28-edit-oppose_x.htm

Bilingual education works

By Stephen Krashen for USA TODAY, October 28, 2002

Supporters of bilingual education agree that children whose native language is not English should acquire English skills as quickly as possible, but they argue that the native language can be used in ways that accelerate English-language development.

High-quality bilingual programs introduce English from the first day in the form of English as a Second Language classes. And they teach academic subjects in English as soon as instruction can be made comprehensible. But the programs
also develop literacy in the first language and teach subject matter in that language in early stages.

Developing literacy in the first language is a shortcut to English literacy. It is much easier to learn to read in a native language; once a child can read in that language, reading ability transfers rapidly to English.

Teaching subject matter in the first language stimulates intellectual development and provides valuable knowledge that will help the child understand instruction when it is presented in English, which helps English-language development.

Studies by California State University professor Fay Shin confirm that most parents of children in bilingual programs find this rationale reasonable and support the use of the first language in school.

Nearly every scholar who has reviewed the scientific research has concluded that bilingual education works. Children in bilingual programs acquire at least as many English skills as children in all-English programs and usually acquire more.

Jay Greene of the Manhattan Institute used more precise statistical tools than those used in previous reviews and found that bilingual education has positive effects. He concluded that  "efforts to eliminate the use of the native language in instruction harm children by denying them access to beneficial approaches."

Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus of education at the University of Southern California, is author of Condemned without a Trial: Bogus Arguments Against Bilingual Education.

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These paragraphs were cut:

Critics claim that test scores increased in California because California dropped bilingual education. Not true. Stanford
professor Kenji Hakuta reported that scores rose in districts that kept bilingual education through special waivers, and in
districts that never had bilingual education. Test scores increased for everybody in California.

The harshest critics of bilingual education research maintain that more research is necessary before we make policy
decisions. If so, eliminating bilingual education is premature. More likely, it is a serious mistake.

 

 

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