ERIC Number: EJ764681
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Apr-27
Reference Count: N/A
Bilingual or Immersion?
Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, v23 n5 p23-26 Apr 2006
A group of new studies is providing fresh evidence of what many researchers have been saying all along: English immersion has more political appeal than educational merit. Dr. Amy Merickel, co-author of "Effects of the Implementation of Proposition 227 on the Education of English Learners K-12," says it is not possible given the data available to definitively answer the question "which is better--bilingual or immersion?" Merickel also says they do not see conclusive evidence that bilingual education is superior to English immersion, and they do not see conclusive evidence for the reverse. They think it is the wrong question. It is not the model of instruction that matters--it is the quality. Dr. Tim Shanahan, professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Illinois-Chicago and director of its Center for Literacy, agrees. Shanahan and a team of more than a dozen researchers from institutions across the nation recently completed a synthesis of all the available research on literacy, including second language literacy for the U.S. Department of Education. Shanahan says when they looked at all the past attempts to get at this issue and analyzed their data, essentially what they concluded was that, in fact, kids did somewhat better if they received some amount of instruction in their home language. How much? It was not clear from the available data. What should it look like? That was not entirely clear either. Across the board, the impact of some instruction in home language seemed to be beneficial. The discussion about quality has only begun, says Shanahan, noting that his review found only 17 studies concerned with educational quality, compared with more than 450 studies examining types of reading programs. Meanwhile the discussion about the language of instruction--a discussion Shanahan says is deeply political--seems never-ending.
Descriptors: Second Language Learning, Literature Reviews, Language of Instruction, Educational Quality, Reading Programs, Bilingualism, English (Second Language), Bilingual Education, Immersion Programs, Educational Methods, Teaching Methods
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Proposition 227 (California 1998)