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Page history last edited by Snehal Pathak 14 years, 7 months ago

Bilingual Education, or instruction provided to children whose first language is not English, is not a new phenomenon; in fact, it was quite common in the United States in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and linguistic pluralism was accepted and tolerated, if not encouraged. However, the large influx of immigrants between the early nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century resulted in public policy focusing on mandatory education to ensure that children of immigrants assimilated into mainstream American culture. As English was nationally adopted as the dominant, yet unofficial, language of instruction, this meant a simultaneous loss of immigrants’ origin language, as children of native speakers of other languages were required to learn English in order to function in society. Rather than addressing linguistic disadvantages among children, public schools adopted a “sink-or-swim” attitude, or full English immersion, and as a result, children of language minorities had educational difficulties, thereby impeding academic progress. However, the Bilingual Education Act (BEA), added as Title VII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was enacted in 1968, legitimizing bilingual education programs in public schools. These programs promoted the use of students’ native languages in instruction, and provided funding for schools to implement bilingual programs. Federal support continued with the reauthorization of Title VII in 1994, as well as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in 2001. Nonetheless, the elimination of the term bilingual in federal legislation, and the shift in focusing on English language acquisition has given rise to challenges of schools to meet the needs of language minority students.


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