The Foundations of Dual Language Instruction is a practical book that examines the basic social, political, historical, and educational foundations of teaching second language learners. This outstanding book is simply written and accessible to beginners. The author takes an objective look at dual language instruction and examines its different parts in a scholarly fashion. She places this important topic in a social environment and develops an understanding of the politics of dual language instruction and the controversy it inspires. Providing basic definitions and theoretical frameworks for thinking about bilingual education, the Fifth Edition continues to explore the political dimensions of language and clearly demonstrates how language works in the classroom.
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Education in more than one language has many historical precedents and is necessary and common around the world today. Population changes in the United States are resulting in a virtual flood of public school children whose needs cannot be met without dual language instruction. In addition, our national economic welfare and political security require that we prepare all children with more than one language so they can cope with a shrinking world and an interdependent global economy. Therefore, dual language instruction should be a routine component of schooling for every child. This book is a basic text for teachers in training. It is not a book about methodology. The term bilingual methods is misleading and often gives rise to confusion and misconstruction. There are, after all, no "bilingual" tangrams, math blocks, or even books or activity sheets.
In the normal course of instructional events, all competent teachers can design objectives, organize materials, structure activities, and devise evaluation strategies. Any good teacher doing those things can answer the questions: "What are you doing?" and "Why are you doing that?" A dual language classroom teacher performs the same tasks but must also include language as a variable in all aspects of planning.
What and why are basic questions for all teachers, but the dual language teacher must answer an additional and difficult question: "What language are you using to teach each particular child, at any given time, in any particular subject?" While this question is methodological in part, the answer results not only from the nature of the task at hand but also from an interplay of theoretical knowledge about language and culture, state and federal mandates, and administrative decisions about program design.
The foundations of dual language instruction comprise, therefore, a complex mosaic involving theory, research, and discourse from several different areas of scholarship and inquiry. To understand how language works in an educational setting, it must be objectified and identified as a tool to be manipulated for instructional purposes, much as we manipulate books, maps, and other instructional aids. To develop this awareness, we must turn to linguistics for information about the nature of language; to psycholinguistics for information about language and the mind; to sociolinguistics for information about how language works in society; and to psychology, sociology, and anthropology for insights into human interaction and culture.
The purposes of this book are twofold and may at first appear to be contradictory. First, dual language instruction must be removed from its controversal political environment. Misinformation about dual language instruction permeates the public mind and, all too often, the teaching profession itself.
Opposition to bilingual education is the result of several common misconceptions. The first misconception relates to time. Schooling in general, and language learning in particular, are slow processes. In the post-modem era, we have become preoccupied with speed and are often impatient with educational programs that do not yield overnight results. However, human development proceeds at its usual pace, regardless of changes in technology that result in speed and cost savings in other areas of endeavor. It takes time to develop proficiency in a language and particularly to reach a level of competence adequate to the demands of schooling. An too often, programs are judged on results obtained in two or three years—and it's not surprising that such results fail to demonstrate dramatic success.
Second, many people regard language learning as a difficult and frustrating endeavor. This attitude is usually the result of having experienced traditional, grammarbased approaches to language teaching. It is common to hear people say, "I took three years of French (or Spanish, or German) in high school, and I can't speak a word." Most of the people who say that would like to speak another language, but the main thing they learned from language class is that it's hard to do! It's not surprising that they are skeptical about the possibility that an educational program can produce bilingualism without pain.
Finally, and perhaps most dynamically, using languages other than English in public schools empowers minority communities and provides marginalized or excluded groups with a voice in schooling. Despite constant demands for reform in schooling, most of us resist change: alterations in the status quo—in schools and society—albeit for the better, are disquieting. Bilingual education has become a flash point in the current political climate, which targets minorities and attempts to blame them for a host of social and economic woes.
So the first item of business for this book is to take an unemotional look at dual language instruction and examine its component parts in a scholarly fashion. Having done that, however, we must next reinsert it into the social environment and develop an understanding of the politics of dual language instruction and the controversy it inspires.
Many people are surprised to learn that bilingual environments are common around the world and that learning in more than one language is the norm rather than the exception. Dual language instruction in the United States is not new. It enjoyed a significant period of popularity in the nineteenth century. Chapter I presents a historical and international overview of bilingualism and dual language education and sets the stage for later discussions of politics and policy. Chapter 2 explains the concept of a program model, details the different models prevalent in the United States today, and describes the competencies required of dual language educators. This chapter also clarifies the distinction between bilingual and multicultural education.
Language is as essential to us as the air we breathe and is equally invisible. On one hand, it is difficult to see; on the other, it is a source of powerful emotion. Because teachers need an objective understanding of language and of bilingualism, Chapters 3, 4, and 5 are devoted to fundamental aspects of language. As a starting point in the process of creating a vision of language as an instructional tool, Chapter 3 offers a definition of language and description of its subsystems. Because discussion of language is so often obscured by attitudes, biases, and emotional attachments, Chapter 3 also analyzes and attempts to defuse people's common language biases. This chapter also includes a discussion of the debate about Ebonics, or African American Language, which has recently been the subject of public debate.
Strategies for teaching languages must be based on what we know about how languages are learned. Chapter 4 reviews current theories of first language development and second language acquisition. Chapter 5 describes language ability, explains how it can be assessed, and includes a discussion of bilingualism as individuals.
While no one seems to deny that knowing more than one language is beneficial for children whose first language is English, controversy surrounds the idea of providing first language instruction for limited English proficient children in the United States. Chapter 6 develops a five-point rationale for providing primary language instruction to limited English proficient children which emphasizes the work of Jim Cummins, whose analysis of school-related proficiency has laid much of the groundwork for current thinking in this area. In addition, Chapter 6 describes approaches for providing primary language support in the classroom, depending on program models.
Many program models include some type of direct second language instruction. Chapter 7 discusses the historical development of several approaches to second language instruction and recent innovations in the field. Also included are discussions of specially designed academic instruction in English, which simultaneously addresses content instruction, second language development, and the development of literacy and biliteracy.
Language is a natural focus for the study of dual language instruction, but language is inextricably tied to culture. The increasing heterogeneity of our school population demands increasing attention to cultural diversity. Many school administrators and classroom teachers make a sincere attempt to respond to ethnic diversity through holiday observances, inclusion of ethnic foods in school menus, and selection of materials that reflect different fife-styles. Although positive, these well-intentioned responses to diversity remain essentially superficial.
A culturally responsive classroom must reach beyond surface or artifact culture and attend to the basic differences in the way children from different backgrounds understand, communicate, and learn. Teachers must understand the nature of culture, its relationship to language, and the relationship of specific cultures to the culture of U.S. schools. Chapter 8 outlines a definition of culture, giving examples of its characteristics and manifestations. Chapter 9 describes four analyses of the relationships between culture and school achievement, with emphasis on the contextual interaction model and the recent work of John Ogbu and Carlos Cortes.
Dual language instruction requires educational planning that is not only based on theoretical considerations but that is also within the framework of federal and state law. The legal foundations for bilingual education are constantly changing. Most recently, California has outlawed the use of primary languages in public school classrooms, and the status of that initiative may impact the entire nation. Chapter 10 provides an updated review of the legislative and judicial foundations of dual language instruction, with special attention to the federal Bilingual Education Act (Title VII), the U.S. Supreme Court's 1974 decision in Lau v. Nichols and subsequent legislation and case law.
Finally, all schooling in the United States takes place in a political context. Dual language instruction manipulates language and culture for instructional purposes. The emotional relationships that people have to language and culture result in a particularly charged reaction to bilingual education. Chapter 11, the final chapter, analyzes the politics of bilingualism and discusses language and its relationship to the ideas and ideals of American identity. This edition includes a discussion of language endangerment, and newly developing theories regarding the connections between language and cultural diversity and the health of our biosphere.
As a text for teachers in training, this book is intended to be simple; given the scope of the subject, it is necessarily superficial in many areas. With this in mind, annotated suggestions for further reading have been included at the end of each chapter, so that readers may pursue their particular interests in depth. In addition, each chapter is followed by questions for thought and suggested hands-on activities to provide students with first-hand insights into and experience in the concepts presented.
While this book attempts to provide an objective review of theory, research, and practice in dual language instruction, the reader will quickly note that I have a strong bias. When I started teaching in a bilingual demonstration program in the late 1960s, our program provided Spanish instruction for monolingual English-speaking children of all backgrounds and Spanish maintenance with English as a second language for Hispanic children whose English was limited. Our program had a strong community base and moved effectively toward the goal of making all our children bilingual and biliterate in English and Spanish.
It is ironic that the growing legislative support we hoped for was the undoing of programs such as ours. Faced with mandates for services for large numbers of limited English proficient children, school districts decided that two-way programs (as they are now called) were a dispensable luxury. There can be no doubt that the needs of limited English proficient children are an immediate first-order priority. But until we inculcate an understanding of the value of bilingualism in the general population, all programs will always be vulnerable and insecure. As a bilingual person and a bilingual teacher, it is my unshakable conviction that dual language instruction benefits all children.
I would like to extend my gratitude to the following individuals who served as reviewers for the second edition of this text:
Ida Tamargo Bilbow, Georgian Court College Sara Di Carlo Urnpierre, Penn State University Sylvia Carrizales, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona Ardath Lee, Sonoma State University JoAnne Mullen, University of Northern Colorado Migdalia Romero, Hunter College Cherif Sadki, SUNY-Brockport Milagros Seda, University of Texas at El Paso In addition, I would like to thank my colleagues in the bilingual education community for their support and encouragement, and my husband—for everything.From the Back Cover:
The Fifth Edition of The Foundations of Dual Language Instruction is a practical text that examines the basic social, political, historical and educational foundations of education for English language learners.
What’s New to the Fifth Edition?
What are Reviewers Saying about The Foundations of Dual Language Instruction?
"I found this text concise, easy-to-read, and well-organized.”
-Solange A. Lopes-Murphy, James Madison University
“I feel that the topics and the sequence in which they are presented is its greatest strength. Also, it is a great first-text for introductory level students.”
-Evangelina B. Jones, San Diego State University
“The strength of the book is accessibility and ease of reading. The topics and issues are well-presented, and lay people, as well as professional educators, can follow with ease the discussions and presentation of material.”
-Juan Necochea, California State University-San Marcos
About the Author
Judith Lessow-Hurley is a professor in the Elementary Education Department at San Jose State University. Her areas of expertise are bilingual and multicultural education. She works primarily with pre-service teachers, most of whom teach significant numbers of English language learners. She is also the author of Meeting the Needs of Second Language Learners (ASCD, 2002).
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