Questioning the Effectiveness and Quality of Billingual Education

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Educators and politicians have long questioned the quality and effectiveness of the techniques used in bilingual education programs. William J. Tikunoff (1985), in the Significant Bilingual Instructional Features study identified five specific bilingual instructional features that are favored by educators in their effort to ensure that limited English language proficient (LEP) students acquire the basic academic and language skills necessary to succeed in school and beyond. All of these features and techniques are also incorporated in the components of the Sheltered Instruction Observational Protocol (SIOP) standards for bilingual and second language instructional excellence (Echevarria, Vogt, & Short 2012). Sheltered instruction is a specific method for helping students develop in their second language regardless of the content area. For most of the district, in the present secondary level classrooms, teacher are still learning how to shelter instruction; however they find that there is an increase in educator understanding each year (Calderon & Minaya-Rowe, 2003). Teachers must understand that one method of instruction cannot fit all students. They must learn how lessons can be scaffolded and differentiated according to the language level of their students. What most educators do not learn or understand is the science behind sheltered instruction, why it is one of the best bilingual instruction methods for English language learners and how they can be better trained to use it in the classroom.
In most instructors’ experience, the focus is often placed on the unit theme or the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for a particular unit much less so on how the content is taught. In most classes the attempt to place the how i...

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...nguage learners develop English language skills at the same time they learn the core content areas. Teachers can seek out their district specialists to discuss strategies for content learn and for adapting curriculum materials for these students. Another goal of teachers should be to understand the second language acquisition process and the various factors that affect their students (Echevarria, Vogt, & Short 2012). Teachers should ask their districts to provide them with the resources necessary to properly educate the growing number of English language learners in our schools as statistics continue to indicate that the U.S. population of students whose first language is not English will continue to increase at a significant rate. It would be of benefit to all if the education sector is wholly, and accurately, prepared to address this growing dynamic language need.
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