Of late, ‘pros and cons of bilingual education’ has become a topic of critical scrutiny among educators, scholars, parents, teachers and various educational organizations. Understanding various bilingual education pros and cons will help us to take an unbiased stand on the effectiveness of bilingual form of educational system.
Bilingual Education Advantages and Disadvantages
Bilingual education debate has been roaring in the media since 1960s. Debates of bilingual education pros and cons are believed to have originated from two acts, the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Bilingual Education Act (1968) that played dominant role in shaping laws for bilingual education.
Advantages of Bilingual Education
For the uninitiated, in bilingual education, students are taught over a period of time in their native language and English is treated as a second language, taught side by side and only when the student is believed to have attained proficiency in native language, so that he can master English easily. Technically and simply speaking, bilingual education is any educational system that favors education in more than one language.
Now depending on the type of multiple languages used to teach, there can be various types of bilingual education system. According to proponents of bilingual education system, the most important benefit of bilingual education system is that a student who is from a non-English speaking background, can easily learn English, owing to his language development, in his native language as well as English language.
And isn’t it good to be proficient in various languages? What problem does it create if a student is well conversant in English as well as his mother tongue? Besides that, a child who is exposed to multiple languages will be able to develop a better sense of appreciating various cultures and understanding societies.
After all, now we’re living in a global world and so being multilingual is always an asset in firms and business works.
In case, he is just aware of one language, he may face problems of hesitation in expressing himself. It’s beautiful form of education as the minority speakers can learn English even while being able to strengthen their cultural bonds by being proficient in their mother tongue.
Disadvantages of Bilingual Education
Amongst various pros and cons of bilingual education, the disadvantage of bilingual education that pops up mostly is that bilingual education is a very expensive form of education. This is owing to the fact that if one dominant language is taught in schools, then definitely the costs incurred will be less than teaching at least 120 multiple languages in different states.
People who oppose bilingual education say that millions of dollars are wasted by focusing on bilingual education. One of the major disadvantages of bilingual education, that is talked about, in the media, is that minority speakers, although wish to learn English, don’t wish to enter into the mainstream society and so they stick to their native language.
Nonetheless, there is not much validity in this argument as being proficient in native language is not a problem in learning English. People against bilingual education, support that English can’t be taught without following the “immersion approach” of education, that is the student must be totally involved in studying English instead of any other language. This is due to the fact that due to bilingual education, students may get confused in learning various languages.
As we can see, there are various bilingual education pros and cons. Since there are both sides of the argument, the debate on bilingual education is an ongoing one and is often in the news. Owing to immigration and cultural interaction, dealing with this topic may not be a very easy issue for US government.