Professor John Rosewall
English Section 111-101
July 27, 2003
Some immigrants come to California in search of the American dream, a better life, better economic wages, better living conditions, and better education for their children. Most immigrant children face language barriers in Californian classrooms. The State of California tired to fix these language barriers with bilingual education. In simplest terms, bilingual education is a special effort to help immigrant, migrant and refugee children learn English so they can do regular schoolwork with their English-speaking classmates and receive an equal educational opportunity. Advocates of bilingual education believe their method develops native-language literacy skills that facilitate students' eventual switch to English while at the same time allowing them to keep up with the standard curriculum. Opponents argue that bilingual education segregates non-English-speaking students and impedes their English-language acquisition, ultimately limiting their opportunities for success. The English only or immersion education program for bilingual immigrant, migrant, and refugee children in California schools is crucial and important.
Bilingual education has had some negative effects in the past. In Peter Schrag's essay "Language Barrier: California's Bilingualism Mess", he points out some of the problems with bilingual education. Schrag felt that the goals of bilingual education were never followed (157). Bilingual students were supposed to learn courses in English-and their native language in
the first three years of school. But in practice, many bilingual programs became over concerned with teaching in the native language and maintaining the ethnic culture of the family than with teaching children English. The bilingual students would end up in the bilingual program well into high school and costing the California taxpayers more money. This approach kept the students from progressing in English and kept them to dependent on their native language. Schrag felt that bilingual...