Bilingual education aids instruction of English language learners, and is becoming a new approach to educating students who arrive at school speaking little or no English. A new piece of legislation in Massachusetts could significantly change the approach that many schools currently have toward students for whom English is a second language.
“As a whole, we wanted to have more flexibility,” said state Sen. Sal DiDomenico, D-Everett. “Every kid is different and every kid learns a little differently. We wanted to allow schools to have more options.”
The bill provides schools a greater flexibility in using bilingual programs when teaching ELL students. Supporters claim that using a bilingual approach eases the tradition and prevents falling behind in their studies while they learn English.
Since 2002, Massachusetts has been using the Sheltered English Immersion model to educate ELL students. This is a method that instructs teachers to teach only in English, with the intent of forcing them to learn English quickly and enter mainstream academic classes.
“Reports document that when given intensive English from the first day of school and for several hours a day, according to the age of the child, children with no English at all will master the speaking, reading and writing of the language within one to two years at most, and be able to do regular classroom work in English within that time period,” said bilingual education opponent Rosalie Porter, chair of the board of directors for the Washington-based advocacy group ProEnglish.