Bilingual Education In The United States

2413 words - 10 pages

Bilingual Education in the United States

Aside from Native Americans, there are no indigenous "Americans" to speak of in the United States. The U.S. is therefore a large immigrant nation whose history has grown out of its ability to bring together people of different cultures, ethnicities, religions and backgrounds. This is why the United States is often considered to be the world's "melting pot." However, despite the fact that America is composed of a diverse immigrant population, English is recognized as the national language of the U.S., and it is through English that domestic affairs in the United States are conducted. Given the large influx of immigrants from Spanish-speaking nations in South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico in particular, debate has arisen over whether or not Spanish should be recognized as a second national language in the United States. For example, as of 1999, Spanish had 332 million speakers while English had 322 million indicating that there are just as many Spanish as English people in the world (SIL International 2). Furthermore, as a result of censuses conducted in the U.S., it is estimated that in the near future the U.S. population will consist of more Spanish-speaking people than ever before. With an interest in this debate, this paper will focus on the controversy over bilingual education in the United States. My paper will examine whether or not the U.S. government should permit public schools to teach in both Spanish and English in order to accommodate the large influx of Spanish-speaking people into the United States in recent years. In light of this debate, I will argue that public schools in the United States should teach secondary languages such as Spanish in regions of the country where there are large Spanish-speaking immigrant populations such as southern California, Texas and Florida, for example. This is because rather than ostracizing large numbers of the population, the U.S. should embrace the diversity of its people by offering assistance to non-English speaking students. Therefore, although I will argue that secondary languages such as Spanish should be taught in public schools in the U.S., I do not believe that English should be replaced entirely by secondary languages.

Before outlining the arguments for and against bilingual education, it is first necessary to provide an overview of the controversy over bilingual education, and its emergence as a national debate. This controversy is basically centered on the question: Should the United States government incorporate the teaching of different languages into the public school system or not? Although it is currently permissible to learn secondary languages such as Spanish, French, German and Latin in public middle schools and high schools in the U.S., such classes have traditionally been geared toward broadening the educational experience for native English-speaking students. Therefore, rather than providing assistance to...

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