Bilingual Education

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Bilingual Education In order to learn more about the bilingual education program in the Public School system, we felt it would be essential to discuss a few controversial issues with some bilingual teachers, and ask them for their opinion on the effectiveness of the system and the concept of bilingual education. We also questioned the benefits and disadvantages of the program. We wrote and asked these question with Latino (Puerto Rican) migrants in mind, however the Public School system consists of many ethnic groups which speak other languages other than Spanish. As one of the teachers stated, the political connotation that Bilingual Education carries is that of concerning only Spanish and English. We interviewed Mrs. Aida Ramos (Vice-Principal), Ms. Clara Velez (Bilingual Math Teacher), Mrs. Irene Killian (TESOL), Ms. Zoraida Ortiz (Bilingual Science Teacher), and Ms. Nancy Harrison (TESOL/Bilingual Computer Lab Teacher). When we asked these teachers whether they supported or were against the bilingual education system, they each shouted their answer as if it were instinctive. Although they had different reasons why, each and every one of the teachers said they supported the system without a doubt. We were given a multitude of reasons why bilingual education is advantageous. Ms. Velez stated that she supports bilingual education because, first and foremost, she is a product of it, and second because she believes the program allows the children to earn credit and learn the language at the same time. She said that if the non-English speaking child were immersed in the English mainstream classes they will fail, and as a result the already high drop out rate of Latinos would increase. Ms. Harrison felt that the bilingual education program would be even stronger and more effective if it served more of the ethnic groups in Hartford. The Vietnamese, Lao, and Albanian students are often put in transitional classes because there are not enough in that particular ethnic group to create a bilingual class that will help them to learn English, while maintaining their primary language. Presently, the state requires twenty students who need assistance in the same language to hire a teacher to create a class for them. She also stated that the students in bilingual education classes have just as many difficulties in academics as do the students in mainstream education, and that the bilingual education program is often used as a scapegoat for those students not achieving.

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