Why Bilingual Education is Important
by Jasmine Cordero
I identify as an Afro-Latina. The word “Afro-Latina” has several different meanings, but I believe it means someone who is half African American and Latino. As an Afro-Latina I am not bilingual, and this is a setback that has taken me years to overcome. For years, my lack of speaking Spanish has hindered me from connecting with my grandparents, employers and other Hispanics. Bilingual education is important because through learning another language, you can connect with others from your country of origin.
Bilingual education has existed for thousands of years. According to New York Daily News, schools chancellor Carmen Farina will “open 38 bilingual programs at city schools starting in September.” These students will have the opportunity to learn different languages that will have a lasting impact in their careers. The New York Department of Education has several different ways of teaching bilingual education.
According to New America.org, there are three different types of bilingual education EL, ESL and TBE. ELS, or English learners, are given specific homework assignments based on their understanding of English. Unlike ESL students, EL were not removed from the classroom and had to learn English at the same pace as everyone else. This program was a part of the no child left behind plan that benefitted students from not being held back a grade because of their lack of English speaking. Researches Kate Menken and Cristian Solorza said “between 2002 to 2010 the percentage of NYC’s ELs enrolled in a bilingual program decreased from 39.7 percent to 22.3 percent.” This decrease does not surprise me because EL suffered, they were placed in classrooms with teachers whom knew English and were not teaching them the basics.
ESL, or English as a Second Language, students are removed from their usual classrooms and placed with other kids also learning English as a second language. Unlike EL, these students were not pressured with exams in English and having to learn it at a fast pace; instead they learn it at their own pace. They graduated from high school with a good grasp of English and were not victims of No Child Left Behind.
Finally, we come to TBE, which stands for transitional bilingual education. This was a (now-eliminated) program that benefitted English Learners. This model was not used to help students learn about different cultures and languages, but to “support in their home language with the goal of quickly transitioning them to English-only instruction.”
Currently, Bilingual education is growing beyond the classrooms with a fair in New York City. The Bilingual Fair in New York City features educators and teachers whom promote bilingual education programs to parents looking to teach their children more about different culture and language. Because I personally believe that bilingual education is important for my own life, I am using Duolingo to helps me learn Spanish phrases and words. So far I have been able to identify little things such as what my job title is and greetings which have helped me introduce myself at networking events that caters to Latino professionals. My hope is that people all across the world will see the value in learning another language and will continue to educate themselves.