As our country becomes more diverse due to a constant influx of immigrants, children must learn to accept and adapt to a variety of values and cultural backgrounds, including languages. Bilingualism gives students the necessary tools to thrive in a multicultural society. Extensive research proves that bilingual education, such as dual immersion programs, greatly benefits the students, as well as the country as a whole for the long run. For those of you who are not familiar with dual immersion, Sonia W. Soltero defines it as “a long-term additive bilingual and bicultural program model that consistently uses two languages for instruction, learning, and communication” in the classroom (Soltero 2).
In the book, Dual Language: Teaching and Learning in Two Languages, Sonia W. Soltero argues that students who learn two languages at an early age—which is when they acquire the most knowledge—for a minimum of six or seven years, excel academically, “outperform…monolingually schooled students,” and are far more likely to continue to pursue a post-secondary education (Soltero 15). Since these students are more likely to continue practicing two different languages through the upper levels of school, they will grow up to be far more competent in a “diverse working world” (Language Immersion Programs). When the time comes for students to join the workforce, employers value and seek out employees who can communicate in more than one language, according to the article on Language Immersion Programs.
Since dual immersion programs integrate a diverse student body in the education of two tongues, the students enrolled are exposed to an environment that inculcates tolerance and acceptance for others’ differences and similarities. When children grow up around other students who are not always like them, they come to appreciate cultures unlike their own, which later leads them to become socially active and well-informed adults who are accepting of others’ values and beliefs. This type of interaction is exactly what our country needs in order to move forward as a united nation and to set the example for other countries to follow.
There are many proven benefits to learning to communicate and interact in two different languages, including the advantages of excelling academically and becoming appreciative of other cultures. And, although there may be misconceptions that lead parents, educators, and even students to believe that dual immersion is not a fair or efficient program, as demonstrated by Table 6 below from the essay Does Research Matter?, there exists strong evidence to the contrary. Dual immersion teaches students much more than how to speak, read, or write in a second language. These popular programs prepare today’s children to become better educated, bilingual, and biliterate adults who will form an even more interconnected and diverse world tomorrow. Dual immersion is a sound alternative to monolingual education. It is important that the implementation of two-way additive bilingual programs continues so that future generations also learn to accept and tolerate different cultures and languages.
Frequency of Issues Mentioned in Opinion Pieces in Favor or Against Bilingual Education
|Issue||Opinion Pieces Mentioning Issue|
|In Favor of Bilingual Education||Students learn English faster||38% (33)|
|Helps academic achievement||24% (21)|
|Bilingualism as national asset||13% (11)|
|Helps cognitive development||8% (7)|
|Against Bilingual Education||Not effective in helping student learn English/ overall academic achievement||51% (44)|
|Leads to segregation of students||20% (17)|
|Leads to anti-Americanism and is unpatriotic||19% (16)|
|Is too expensive||13% (11)|
|Goes against public opinion||10% (9)|
|Allows for no parental choice in child’s education||10% (9)|
Note: Percentages are of total number of editorials and letters (n=87).