Table of Contents
2. Bilingualism in America
3. LEP Problematic
4. Favoring the Bilingual Education Approach
Being herself a nation of immigrants, the United States did not acknowledge her special character and lasting influx of immigrants until 1968 with the legislation of the Bilingual Education Act, making the first move towards an education policy, which shows consideration for limited-English-proficient and non-English speaking schoolchildren. Thus, the U.S. is confronted with the challenge of enabling those children to speak English fluently. A variety of disjunctive studies and opinions exist whether or not bilingual education is an effective method for the English language acquisition and the resulting successful integration of immigrant children into American life and society. Interestingly enough, this heated debate continues to this date. Having realized the demographic change towards a predominantly Spanish speaking population, many states in the U.S. have already reacted to the imminent upheaval by providing bilingual (English/Spanish) services and documents at federal institutions. The following paper will demonstrate the urgency and validity of the bilingual education approach by highlighting its effectiveness and benefits for a multicultural and plurilingual American society, spending special attention to the Californian educational situation.
2. Bilingualism in America
In order to grasp the need and international reality of the U.S., one must firstly consider her demographic development. America experiences a land-sliding change of her population, not only introducing a diversity of cultures, colors and religions, but also propelling the dispersal of non-English languages throughout the United States. As Garcia clarifies the situation:
The U.S. Census Bureau (2000) estimated that people of color made up 28% of the nation’s population in 2000 and predicted that they would make up 38% in 2025 and 47% in 2050. In March 2004, the Census revised its projections and predicted that by 2050 people of color and Whites would each make up 50% of the U.S. population (Garcia vii).
So it is little wonder that this influx of immigrants to the U.S. from the various parts of the world rubs off on the educational scenery, – especially the school children of immigrants, being mostly bilingual – fostering the “linguistic and cultural diversity in the United States” (Garcia 4). The example of California elucidates this phenomenon best since, according to a study conducted by the California State Department of Education in 2000, “during the 19918-1999 school year, students of color made up 63.1% of the student population in the public schools of California, the nation’s largest state” (Garcia vii). It becomes evident that due to the continuous immigration, a bilingual society has not solely emerged, but has become an indispensable part of American reality, being reflected in both the daily economic and social interaction. Again, the U.S. Census underlies this trend by reporting that
[c]lose to 10 million […] 5- to 17-year-olds in the United States, about 20% of the school-age population, speak a language other than English at home. This is a significant increase of about 40% from the 1990 U.S. Census (Garcia 4-5).
 Garcia’s notion of the term “people of color” comprises in that case besides Blacks also Asian, Latino and Indian people
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- Institution / College
- Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz – Department of English and Linguistics
- Bilingualism Bilingualism USA America Bilingualism Language California Bilingualism California