Focus Point - Doing Bi-Lingual Ed CorrectlyCommentary by Pete du Pont
April 25, 2000
I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. Bi-lingual education is an acknowledged failure. But for those who refuse to give up on it, I have a model for them to turn to.
For half the 450 kids at the Dover Elementary School in Richardson, Texas, English isn't their first language. In fact, they speak 27 different first languages. There's bi-lingual kindergarten and first grade for Spanish, but after that, the school relies on teacher's aides and volunteers to help kids grasp concepts. And of course, they learn from each other. But mostly, the kids are surrounded by English. Instructors teach them the alphabet. Kids learn English at different speeds, but then kids learn everything at different speeds.
Another thing: almost all bi-lingual ed has been for Spanish speakers, but other kids have had no choice but total immersion in English. So why do those who maintain Spanish-speaking children can only make a gradual transition to English, think those kids are any less capable of learning than kids who speak other languages?
Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, the feminized military.