Case Study for Bilingual Education
The Role of Language, Literacy and Culture in the Content Instruction of Junior High and high School Students with Diverse Cultural Backgrounds
History of Bilingual Education
The process through which children learn their first language has fascinated people for centuries. These are several gruesome historical episodes in which unethical members of royalty from different cultures around the world exploited their power in vain attempts to discover the origins of language in children. Human beings possess a capacity to learn language that is specific to this species and no other. Language might be expected from the evolutionary process humans have undergone and that the basis for language might be transmitted genetically.
The dominant American culture shapes nearly all public schools in the United States. School culture determines curriculum content, assumptions about background knowledge, learning philosophies, teaching approaches, classroom interaction and management, school routines, and parental participation. Differences in culture between the school and the students influences the teachers' perception of students and their families, the students' behavior and performance in school, and parents' interactions with school and their children.
Decisions about what to teach are based on what society considers necessary and valuable to learn. World history courses that concentrate mostly on European history reflect the historical background that, implicitly, U.S. schools consider important. Students from other parts of the world are often deracinated because the curriculum lacks their own historical content. Their American classmates and even their teachers may be ignorant about the bilingual students' own historical background.
The children’s ability to learn as facilitated by those involved in the immediate community where they live is presumed to be enhanced. This is the primary basis of most of the learning theories that has been identified through time. The children learn several lessons as they start to interact with the community. They learn how to become part of the community. As they growl old, they learn to play a role in the community. These of course, are in addition to the basic lessons that they have to learn in school. That is, learn how to sing, write, perform arithmetic, and solve math problems and others.
There are certain arguments that involve in terms of the language development, It was been argued that language is a complex system consisting of a number of distinct, interacting, components, and that no single explanation for its development is likely to be adequate: but the evidence suggests, rather, that different factors predominate in the development of different parts of the system. In meaning, the language development is a critical factor in the stage development of a child.
Bilingual education is instruction in two languages and the use of each language as a medium of instruction for any part of, or the entire school curriculum.
Bilingualism is common in the Ancient World, especially with the Ancient Greece. Latin prevails among the European communities due to the scope of the Ancient Roman empire. Starting in the sixth century B.C.E, ancient Greeks, for example, penetrated and dominated large areas of the Mediterranean. While they preserved and promulgated Greek language and culture through schooling, they had no interest in replacing local languages with their own.
Principles of Bilingual Education
Situational factors are closely related. Language use (linguistic factor) often depends on societal attitudes to the language (social factor). When youngsters become aware of negative attitudes toward their heritage language, they refuse to use it. Restrictions imposed on children due to gender (social) often have their roots in family values (cultural). Negative attitudes toward ethnic groups (social) arise from unfavorable political relations with their countries of origin (political). Financial status of families (economic) may depend on government policies toward particular immigrant groups (political).
These factors affect students through the institutions with which and people with whom they frequently come into contact, called filters. Situational factors color the advice, attitudes, and pressure that family, peers, and school personnel bring to students. The neighborhood is the social context students experience daily, and the media are the most accessible way to bring the views of the larger society to children.
The manifestation of these factors is fluid, changing over time and varying from place to place. (1990) maintained that historical background influences societal factors. Today's attitudes toward an ethnic group may be very different from those evident in the past. Present attitudes toward Japanese immigrants contrast sharply with those held at the time of World War II. Research on the academic achievement of students from different ethnic groups reveals differential performance of whole groups in different countries. For example, Finns tend to do poorly in Sweden but not in the United States, whereas Koreans excel in most countries except in Japan.
While the political and ideological debate over language choice for instruction rages, the number of bilingual students in the United States steadily increases. Bilingual programs only serve a small percentage of bilingual students. 1 Many more attend ESL classes, and a majority of bilinguals with low proficiency in English are enrolled in mainstream classes ( 1998). Some students experience success in school, but many do not ( 2001). Educators, linguists, and social scientists have over the years offered explanations and possible solutions. Blame has been attributed to the students themselves, their homes, schools, or even society. At first students who failed were labeled alingual or nonspeakers because they lacked fluency in English. Later studies attributed failure to the mismatch between the children's language at home and English as the predominant language of instruction (2001). By the late 1960s, introduction of the home language in school was considered the solution giving rise to bilingual programs ( 1990).
Presumptions about the students' culture were also offered to explain students' failures. From claims of "cultural deprivation," which branded differences as deficits, researchers moved on to explore discontinuities between students' home and school environments. The way students were enculturated. to learning at home markedly differed with schools' expectations (1998). The hope was that by incorporating students' culture in the curriculum and methods teaching, educational performance would be enhanced ( 1990). A firstgrade Spanish-speaking teacher engaged the students in playing a language game as part of the language arts lesson. She allowed for student collaboration, talk, and even maintaining discipline. Although the game assumed competition, the students helped each other without regard for their own chances to win. Language use in this classroom and the nature of the interaction among participants (including the teacher) "seems to match the general language use of the community surrounding the school" ( 1998). In contrast, the same students working with a teacher unfamiliar with the students' language and culture became quickly bored playing a comparable game. The lesson was rigid and limited to the teacher giving directives and asking questions. Efforts from students to help each other and maintain discipline were misinterpreted, resulting in reprimands and lack of participation from a student who knew no English.
(1995) observed students who succeeded academically in spite of the fact that schools ignored their language and culture. These students were recent immigrants from China, India, and Central America. These families moved to offer their children a better education and better socioeconomic opportunities. Motivated by their hope for the future and a sense of duty to their parents, who sacrificed so much, these students performed admirably in school. Language minority students who are not immigrants and who have seen the doors of success and upward mobility closed to their community generation after generation have no basis for hope in the future. For groups that have been traditionally neglected, the incorporation of their language and culture shows a sense of respect, which in turn breeds trust between school and community. Trust for the intentions of the schools to educate is an important variable ( 2004). Students can succeed in schools that do not consider their language and culture if parents and students trust that these schools are sincerely interested in providing a good education. Erickson gave Catholic and Muslim schools as examples.
For (2004), neglect of home language and culture may be significant, but more significant are inadequate teaching methodology, unfair assessment, and lack of communication with the community, "result[ing] in the personal and/or academic disabling of minority students" (p. 60 ). ( 1987) demonstrated in her research with bilingual high school students that structural and interpersonal barriers block students' integration into mainstream America. This isolation limits students' chances to develop English and progress academically. (1999) extensive study of Native American communities in the Southwest concluded that linguistic, cultural, economic, political, social, and psychological factors need to be considered to understand educational situations and make decisions on educational policy. Configuration of the languages, strength of religion and culture, employment, government policy, national ideology, socioeconomic status, and attitudes toward languages all need to be taken into account when planning a bilingual program.
Collectively, the research on variables influencing the education of language minority students indicates that multiple situational and individual factors affect students' school performance. Situational factors ncluding linguistic, cultural, economic, political, and social--influence how students of a particular ethnic group are viewed by educators and peers, which in turn determines students' and their families' expectations of schools and how much schools provide for them.
Personal characteristics--especially language, culture, and educational background--influence how bilingual students function in school. Bilinguals' families play a pivotal role in language development, identity formation, and achievement motivation. Educators need to understand how situational factors, personal characteristics, and families affect individual students' education. The type of education schools provide ultimately determines the educational success of bilingual students, but knowledge of such external and internal factors can help school staff better support bilingual learners and their families and understand how these factors are influencing school policy and practice
Principles of Bilingual Education
The logical problem of language acquisition is that language learning would be impossible without universal language-specific knowledge ( 1999). The main reason apparently is the input data. Language input is the evidence, out of which the learner constructs knowledge of language. Such evidence can be either positive or negative. The positive position of words in a few sentences the learner hears is sufficient to show him the rules of grammar (1995). Because of this reasoning, the UG has gained wider acceptance and popularity.
Now, since the study of second language acquisition has tremendously been influenced by the study of first language acquisition, this theory is also used in the field of second language acquisition. “The assumption that universal grammar is the guiding force of child language acquisition has long been maintained by many, but only recently has it been applied to second language acquisition” (2001).
On the other hand, the term interlanguage was used by Lary Selinker who recognized that L2 learners create a linguistic method that comes from the first language, but is not equal to it or to the target language (1990). This concept is characterized by a series of premises in the acquisition of second language. These premises include (i) the learner construct a system of abstract linguistic rules, which underlie comprehension and production of the L2. This system of rules is viewed as a mental grammar and is referred to as interlanguage; (ii) the learner’s grammar is permeable. That is, grammar is open to influence from the outside. It is also influenced from the inside; (iii) the learner’s grammar is transitional. Learners change their grammar from one time to another by adding rules, deleting rules, and restructuring the whole system. This results in interlanguage continuum; (iv) some researchers have claimed that the systems learners construct contain variable rules. That is, learners are likely to have competing rules at any one stage of development. However, there are researchers who argued that interlanguage systems are homogeneous; (v) learners employ various learning strategies to develop their interlanguage. The different kinds of errors learners produce reflect different learning strategies; and (vi) the learners’ grammar is likely to fossilize. That is learners may stop developing while still short of target language competence.
The concept of interlanguage offers a general account of how L2 acquisition takes place. It incorporates elements from mentalist theories of linguistics and elements from cognitive psychology. The premises, other aspects related to them, the importance of input in L2 and the treatment of errors would be analyzed in details in this thesis.
The third chapter deals with the learning or acquisition of individuals in pre and post pubertal ages. In this regard, research concerning brain-language relations will be examined. A brief mention on the two traditional neurolinguistics school of thoughts is shown below.
According to (1998) the two schools of thought were described as localizationists and holists. The localizationists observed that of the two cerebral hemispheres, one appeared to be responsible for language, the left in most instances. Also localizationists understood that of all the left hemisphere, the central parts of the outer surface seemed more crucially linked to language, since damage to other parts of the left hemisphere seemed to have very few consequences for language abilities.
As different cases of aphasia were observed, localizationists parceled out areas within the left-hemisphere cortical language area, with one area nearer the front of the head deemed responsible for producing language and another for comprehension.
The holist school, on the other hand, has argued that localizationism is a false compartmentalizing of language abilities that in fact are supported by larger parts of the brain. Thus holists were called connectionists because they focused on how areas of the brain were interconnected. Holists focus on the way language is dependent on cognitive abilities such as memory, abstract thinking, attention and prefer not to limit themselves to exploring ever more delimited language phenomena and language areas ( 1990).
The analysis of this study will mainly focus on the theory of the lateralization of the brain and its implication for second language acquisition. In order to examine the process of lateralization of the brain and its relation to L2 acquisition, it is necessary to analyze the hypothesis that has caused so much controversy in relation to the L2 acquisition of adults and children, the “critical period hypothesis.”
Bilingualism in School
For the teachers and other people in the academe, the results of the reviewed articles should be a constant reminder to the subsequent steps and measures that will be applied and implemented in the schools in relation to the consequences brought by changes in the educational system. Instructors should be sensitive enough in dealing with every student due to differences in cultural orientation by conceptualizing better means on how to exhaust the learning abilities and capacity of the students incorporating teaching materials that students can relate and incorporate themselves to. They should also realize the significant role they play in the continuous development and improvement of the educational environment in the country by taking their stance on issues that are best dealt by educators rather than the involvement of politics.
For the students in the school, it is always important to be open to new ideas and skills being provided by teachers. Taking part and contributing on the studies that can provide improvements in the education system of the country for the betterment of the future social community should be emphasized among students. Their role as successors of the future society should be realized and inculcated early on. Recognizing the importance of education not just a means of completing a stage in this existence but by realizing the advantages and added value that learning provides to each individual should be a motivation and driving force to become a person worthy of appreciation in the future.
This paper should enlighten the individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in education and upholding quality and literate youth for them to be productive and ideal citizens of the country in the future. The issues that were presented in the paper should be fully considered as part of the challenge in their entrance to the education system. The inevitable problems that are confronted at present which are in need of immediate acknowledgement and solution should be considered as noble goal among future educators.
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