Dual-language programs will help communication and communities

Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons User Brian Cantoni

“When it comes to education, there are two schools of thought–both meaning the same thing, but saying it in a different way.”

The subject of dual-language education is a proposed program that has recently come into the legislative spotlight. In California, this program could become reality. However, even in California this is still a subject that divides many residents especially when it comes to education. But is it really as detrimental as people claim it is?

Programs such as this one help to bridge the gap between non-English-speaking residents and English -speaking residents. As more people gain understandable means of communication, they can more easily converse with communities outside of their own. This program also bridges an enormous divide in cultural understanding and tolerance. The ability to speak English as a first language often allows people to take advantage of those who do not by twisting certain words’ meanings or willfully withholding information. Although this leads to a greater issue of xenophobia and racism, we must still something we must acknowledge that something like this happens because there are so few learning resources for non-English speakers. Similarly, there are also very few resources for English speakers to learn other languages outside the confines of a school curriculum. Even at that, this curriculum takes place years after the brain’s neuroplasticity has decreased, making it more difficult to retain the information being provided. Many schools in California only provide Spanish and French, and even those may not be offered at anything lower than an AP-level course. Susan S. Lang of Cornell University published an article in 2009 that stated that learning a second language at a young age would actually benefit children and not cause some great calamity, as many Californians are afraid of.

Programs such as these, hopefully, would not mean that only non-English speakers are the only ones who are learning a new language. Cultural assimilation is not necessary, nor should it ever be encouraged. This institution of cultural assimilation is what many other Californians fear. Consequently, it would benefit the chief educators who form the curriculum to make sure that the push for English programs carries just as much substance behind it as it does for foreign language programs. It would also be beneficial to bring in other educators from schools that lack foreign language and English programs in order to create programs that benefit all students instead of just a select few. Dual-language programs have the ability to do a lot of good for communities that feel they need them, and even for communities who feel they may not. But because this is an educational setting, it is important that the programs are designed for all students and are implemented properly without bias towards any one group of students.

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