Research on The Duel Language Program and TESOL Initiatives
“In transitional bilingual education programs, the linguistic goal is to either eradicate a language (mother tongue) or substitute it with English. In the maintenance program, the linguistic goal is to maintain the mother tongue while adding the second. Enrichment programs aim to add a language to that which children already know, and foster children's academic growth in both languages. This definition is in contrast to more traditional bilingual education programs, where the educational goal is to be able to function in all-English environments” (Torres-Guzmn, 2002).
During the early 1990s, it was recognized that the needs of ESL learners in the United States were not being met, and that the numbers of students enrolling in mainstream schooling from linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds was steadily increasing. In response to this need, therefore, TESOL published The Access Brochure (1993), which was produced to ensure that schools gave “language minority students full access to the learning environment, the curriculum, special services and assessment in a meaningful way”. Following this initiative, the Goals 2000: Educate America Act began to actively encourage professionals, throughout the different academic fields, to develop and identify standards for explicit academic content areas. Then TESOL, in recognition of the need for more explicit guidelines, decided to develop a set of national standards. These articulated their vision of what was involved in assuring effective education for ESPs, while also calling for all professionals across the educational field to assume responsibility for integrating the practices and techniques that would guarantee optimum education for ESP students. Included within the framework are a list of the principles involved in second language acquistion, an explanation of the benefits of bilingualism, and the ways in which native languages can effectively contribute towards English proficiency (TESOL, 1996).
Dual language programs, which include the principles and practices set out within the TESOL initiatives, are aimed at enabling academic achievement in English and a second language through developing and fostering bilingual skills and positive social and cultural attitudes. The principle theory within this is the recognition of the significant association between language learning and cognition. Research has shown, for example, that it takes between five and seven years for most people to learn a second language that enables a person to function academically, and that individuals are able to transfer the skills and knowledge acquired within their mother tongue to the second language. Therefore, the majority of experts currently accept that through continuing “to develop the two languages, children's education and cognitive development is enhanced” (Collier, 1992, 1995; Hakuta & Diaz, 1986).
The strength of the dual language program is its clear policy, which include extensive linguistic, sociocultural and pedagogical features that ensure that both languages are given equal status. The program is designed in such a way that the languages remain separated through the practice of alternating periods of time (full or half days), and/or teaching staff. The exact way in which the languages are separated is dependent a number of factors, such as the grade level, teaching objectives, or other aspects.
The recognition of the need for reform in teaching English language learners, therefore, has reached beyond development and has firmly moved into the classroom. This had meant that education methods and training has changed, and is still changing, in reponse to such demands, with a particular emphasis on the role of the teacher. The challange of standards-based education essentially “requires teachers to reach concensus on what students should know and be able to do and understand how to teach it” (Clair et al., 1998), which implies that educators need to be developing skills to deal with contemporary conceptions of teaching practices. In culturally diverse schools, for example, teachers need to have addressed personal attitudes in relation to culture, race, and language, and they should be aware of the ways in which linguistic and cultural backgrounds influence the learning process (Garcia, 1994).
“I live these issues every day. I can't escape them anywhere: stores, classes, the gym. Three, four, five things happen everyday to remind me that, no matter what white people believe, there is still a ton of prejudice out there. It reminds me to think about the things I do and say, and the prejudices I have” (Paul Gorski, 1989).
According to Jim Cummins, “when research results regarding minority students underachievement are examined internationally, a striking pattern emerges” (Cummins, 1989), which would seem to point towards the presence of both racism and discrimination within the majority of classrooms. All of the groups that had poor performance results were those that have “historically been discriminated against and regarded as inherently inferior by the dominant group” (Ibid.), such as African and Hispanic students within the United States, Finnish students in Sweden, and Asian students in the United Kingdom. It would seem that twenty years later, little had really changed.
“Any person who has grown up in the American school system,” stated Paul Gorski PhD, in 2006, “has been educated to hold racial prejudices” This problem, as Cummins (1989) pointed out, indicated that educators needed to address their attitudes, with a willingness to engage in self-exploratory techniques that would lead to personal growth and development. Essentially, Cummins' tried to show that unless all educators were willing to commit themselves to this idea, minority students would continue to face racism and discrimination, and their fellow classmates would continue to be taught it. “.... genuine remediation”, he stated, “requires that educators adopt role definitions that challenge rather than reflect the values of the wider society. If power relations between the dominant and dominated groups are fundamental contributors to minority students' underachievement, then bilingual special educators must decide whether they can remain neutral with respect to the ways in which these power relations are manifested in the interactions between educators and minority students in schools” (1989).
Pointing towards role definition, Cummins was arguing that unless educators adopted an attitude that both respected and protected the minority students' cultural identity and language, ESP students would continue to suffer academically and socially. The main responsibility in addressing this issue and ensuring maximal progress, according to Cummins, belonged to educational institutions. It was their duty to initiate this procedure through the equipping and training of staff members who often inadvertently reflected “broader patterns of societal discrimination” (Cummins, 1989).
Central to ESOL standards and dual language programs, concesqently, are three essential objectives that are based on these principals, and which, therefore, have a significant focus on the student:
1. Using English to communicate in social situations.
2. To use English in all content areas to acheive academically.
3. To use English in culturally and socially appropriate ways.
Each of these objectives have been developed into models that include three important standards, with each standard being dependent upon essential practices that involve reforms in curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Many schools have attempted the integration of TESOL standards through primarily implementing changes in curriculum, but the standards can be introduced in any of the three significant areas. Cray-Andrews and Millen (1996), for example, recommend that schools begin by assessing individual and appropriate needs. Therefore, if a school experienced a change in the school population due to a rapid increase in minority language students, teachers should modify classroom strategies in order to meet their student's educational needs, which suggests that the emphasis should begin with reform in instruction. If, however, a school is experencing dissatisfaction with its testing and test scores, than it should consider starting with changes in assessment practices. Decisions concerning the integration of TSEOL standards should, consequently, be in rapport with the individual setting of the school, rather than in response to other pressures (Cray-Andrews & Millen, 1996).
Clair et al (1998) carried out extensive research into the way in which four middle schools had implemented TSEOL standards, and what effects this was having on both students and teachers. The study focused on two essential questions:
1. What major issues come to light when including second language students in standard integration efforts?
2. What are the most effective professional development strategies that prepare and enable schools to respond to this challange?
The study showed that in order for standards-based education to be effective, professionals throughout the teaching field need to “consider how their beliefs and their actions affect students from varied cultures, language groups, and races in distinct ways” (Clair et al., 1998, p.20). It was proposed that time was needed for individuals to build on previous knowledge, through questioning teaching assumptions and attitudes, and by trying out new approaches in the classroom (Clair et al., 1998). In addition, it was suggested that personal preconceptions and attitudes significantly influence any attempt at integrating TSEOL standards into classroom practice. This is illustrated through the example of a teacher blaming students for their academic failure, who stated, “Those students will never learn English. They don't even speak it at home” (Clair et al., 1998, p.20). Following this, a colleague responded, “I never spoke English at home, either. My family is French-Canadian and we only spoke French. In fact, my elementary schooling was in French” (p.21).
The results of the study suggested that such initiatives are clearly in their infancy, although “a self-discovery has been initiated in which participants have begun to reveal their beliefs and practices and to examine ways of working with English learners” (Clair, 1998, p.35), but the study also raised a number of pertinent questions. Does enhanced cultural and linguistic knowledge, for example, truly help teachers to improve their attitudes and, consequently, their attitude towards minority students? If so, does this knowledge actually enable more appropriate instruction, and, if not, what supports should be provided?
The world has changed. Modern society consists of individuals from diverse cultures, race, religion, language, and social backgrounds, and contemporary educational insititutions are charged with the reponsibility of ensuring the academic success of its students of no matter what ethnic heritage. Professional educators, therefore, must ensure the facilitation of such basic human rights through a personal committment to effective teaching practices that meet this challenge. Teachers must, therefore, be willing to reevaluate individual preconceptions, attitudes, and judgments towards diversity.
The modern educational establishment is also having to adapt to successfully meet the challenges that such changes represent. Education needs to provide its students with the necessary knowledge and skills to survive in a multi-cultural world that holds diverse values in a society that is constantly shifting. In order to meet such needs, learning institutions must ensure that they are supplying these requirements through incorporating appropraite and effective policies that endorse these principles.
Although it is clear that there has been substantial progress made within improving the educational opportunities of minority language students in schools, there is still much more that needs to be achieved. There is, for example, a specific need for all preservice candidates in teacher training programs, rather than just those in ESL or bilingual programs, to become familiar with TSEOL standards so that they can successfully integrate them into the classroom. All future teachers should learn about the principles of second language acquistion, including ESL methods and appropriate practices that enhance language efficiency, as part of their general training and course work, while those who are already working within language teaching positions should collaborate more with trainees, and recieve complementary training programs.
It is clear that more information is needed on the incorporation of TSEOL standards into classroom practice, in particular concerning the results of current research and informative and practicle articles. Bilingual education, however, is a postive learning experience that often benefits both the individual learner and the surrounding society. Howver, although this has clearly been reconized, there are still many teachers and learning establishments that have not fully grasped the way in which diversity is positive, creative, educational, and beneficial to the learning environment and the communities they serve. Teachers are on the front line of this challenge to ensure that all students are receiving the same academic opportunities, which implies a personal responsibility on the part of such individuals in order to assure that all of America's children are receiving equal opportunities in education.
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