What’s really interesting in development (or not) of bilingualism in the U.S. is who should be educated in dual language programs, what purpose they serve, and when should they begin/end. A number of studies demonstrate that children in dual language programs do well in these programs, they don’t fall behind children who are placed in immersion programs, and they even show some advantages on some testing. An added benefit I’ve read about (but, I don’t have data at hand) is that students who were ELLs are less likely to drop out of school if they attended a dual-language program. That’s a great benefit to our society as a whole.
Some school districts have noticed these kinds of advantages and as a result are adding dual-language education at the upper grades. Blaine County School District is one of those programs. Wow! They’ve seen that these kids really benefit from dual-language education and this is seen in high test scores.
With knowledge of benefits of bilingualism for competition in a world market college students often take foreign language courses. Often the study of a foreign language starts in high school, but often not before. Children however can be bilingual and can thrive in such environments. I don’t know why we as a society are so frightened of populations who speak other languages. But, we should really see this as a resource and build dual-language programs from a young age in which English only speakers can learn another language, and children who speak other languages can learn English.
Which brings me to the contradiction, in San Jose, CA a popular dual-language program is closing citing budget problems. My question is how is closing the program going to solve the budget shortfall? The children served by the program still have to be educated, even if not in two languages. For those who are English language learners and for those who will wait till college to learn another language will there be a greater cost?