Bilingual Education Can Teach English Better

By Stephen Krashen, Jill Kerper Mora, J. Manuel Urrutia, and Leela Pustake | The Christian Science Monitor, September 29, 2000 | Go to article overview

Bilingual Education Can Teach English Better


Stephen Krashen, Jill Kerper Mora, J. Manuel Urrutia, and Leela Pustake, The Christian Science Monitor


Contrary to claims made by critics of bilingual education ("Arizona takes page from California lesson book" Sept. 27), rising test scores in California do not demonstrate that dismantling bilingual education is a good idea.

Test scores increased throughout California during the past two years, a phenomenon that typically occurs when new tests are introduced, and there is no evidence linking this increase to dropping bilingual education.

When one considers a larger number of districts and examines the published research, one sees impressive evidence supporting bilingual education. Also, as noted in your article, in Arizona students with limited proficiency in English who were in bilingual education have outscored those in all-English programs on tests of English reading for the past three years.

Finally, controlled studies consistently show that children in properly organized bilingual classes acquire at least as much English as those in all-English classes and usually acquire more.

Stephen Krashen Los Angeles Professor of Education University of Southern California

When considering whether or not to follow in California's footsteps by restricting bilingual education, Arizonans should take a long look at the real impact of California's Proposition 227.

These minority communities do not want to dismantle effective dual-language programs that are working for their children. Ron Unz, the author of Proposition 227, wants Arizonans to pass a law forcing English-immersion programs on reluctant communities based on the unproven premise that bilingual instruction impedes English language learning. The proponents of Arizona's Proposition 203 think they know better than parents how best to educate their own children. If Arizona is truly a state that prides itself on parental choice and local control in public schools, its citizens must reject both the legal provisions and the mean-spirited attitudes embodied in Proposition 203. …

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