Posts Tagged facts

Maggie Funk: Why can’t we get bilingual education right? | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Opinion: Viewpoints

Maggie Funk: Why can’t we get bilingual education right? | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Opinion: Viewpoints

Why indeed? If we know that there are better second language alternatives than English only then wouldn’t logic dictate that we use them? This is a constant frustration to me that folks pay more attention to opinion (and much seems to be paranoid, reactive, illogical opinion) than to facts. At least when it comes to bilingual education. If I hear one more time the story that, “well, my grandfather came to this country and learned English with no help, or bilingual education” I will SCREAM.

I think that more people need to look at the facts before deciding what works and what doesn’t. And the facts can’t be based on anecdotes but on larger n, prospective research. Anecdotes are too easy to distort. AGHHHH. Okay, I screamed– couldn’t help it.

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The book I wish I’d written

François Grosjean has an upcoming book called Bilingual: Life and Reality (Harvard Press). While I haven’t yet read it, I am looking forward to doing so. It’s written for the public, but I can also see using this book for an undergraduate course in bilingualism. The focus is on what’s true and what are myths about bilingualism. And it brings together educational, political, and practical issues around bilingualism. It’s based in theory and provides real-life examples. It sounds like it will be a wonderful book.

There are so many issues around bilingualism and what it is and isn’t. Even though about half of the world is bilingual there are many misconceptions about what it is and what it means to be bilingual. In the U.S. there are persistent myths about whether children will be confused by bilingualism or whether children can become delayed. There are also numerous stereotypes that play into people’s fears about speaking languages other than English. I often joke that in the U.S. school system we first eradicate children’s home languages and then in High School we expect kids to learn a second language in 5 hours a week or less. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Grosjean has also written an article addressed to parents about bilingualism. It’s available here in English and here in French.

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