Bilingual education improves learning
I would like to offer congratulations to the graduating class of Sonoma Valley High School who were originally in the bilingual classes in Flowery School.
I am a bilingual teacher with 20 years of experience. I got my start in the Sonoma Valley Unified School District as a bilingual aide for the California Mini-Corps.
Many people, at that time, were unaware that I was not paid for by the school and was an undergraduate following the directions given to me by the state and federal programs.
Later I became a bona fide bilingual aide for the district and eventually a bilingual teacher. As a bilingual teacher, I was constantly misunderstood by people who are uneducated about the nature of bilingual instruction and its overall effectiveness. The fact is, many monolingual people are threatened by bilingual education.
Bilingual has a proven track record that you can read about in The Close Report, a lengthy multi-million dollar longitudinal study done by OMEMLA, the U.S. Education Department's office of Bilingual and Language Minority Affairs.
Logically, there is no reason to think that a person would learn better in a single language or that anyone would learn better by forsaking the knowledge of their mother tongue.
But the underlying principle is very simple; a person who is well-educated and literate in his own language will learn a second language better than a person who isn't. Knowledge in L1 reinforces and drives knowledge in L2.
Who is more likely to learn a second language, a prince or a pauper?
The answer is academic and very seldom contested in other parts of the world where second languages are an accepted fact of life.
In Europe, they have a name for monolingual people - Americans.
We need to change this perception by encouraging our students to become bilingual while also promoting the preservation and pride of home cultures.