Letters: Immigrant Children Thrive in English Immersion

To the Editor:

Your April 30 editorial criticizing Proposition 227, and its call for replacing bilingual classes in public schools with a year of English immersion, ignore the gift children have for learning languages.

Experience shows that immersion is the best way to learn a language.

Granted, one year may not be sufficient to master a language, but a child will have the rest of his life to do that.

At age 11 I was put in a fourth-grade classroom in an Army elementary school in Germany. Until then, I spoke French and my family spoke French. As expected, I was bewildered, but soon I had a circle of friends.

Within a few weeks I kept up with the class work, and in a few months I was proficient in English.

My multiculturalism did not suffer. I still speak, read and write French fluently, and I now work for an American-based global company. So I ask, How can Proposition 227 “not help California’s 1.3 million bilingual students enter the mainstream any quicker”?


Ann Arbor, Mich., April 30, 1998

Let Educators Decide

To the Editor:

I disagree with your argument in an April 30 editorial that more money would make bilingual education successful. I do, however, agree that educational policy ought to be set by educators, not by a ballot proposition.

The problem is that bilingual education did not originate with educators.

It came from Washington bureaucrats, whose raison d’?tre is creating new programs.

A big step toward improving public school education would be to give local educators more freedom to conduct classes in ways that are most effective for their students.


Montville, N.J., April 30, 1998

Money Isn’t the Solution

To the Editor:

Your support of continued experimentation with costly bilingual programs (editorial, April 30) is a perfect example of the liberal route to a nonsolution of the language problems in California public education. As a former community college instructor in a school serving mostly Hispanic students, I found that California high school graduates lacked the language abilities needed to succeed even at a community college.

My “successes” had mastered English through a variety of means, rarely bilingual public education. My bilingual students who were parents complained that their children were being disadvantaged by bilingual education.

They were being held back by schools too concerned with gaining Federal bilingual financing and protecting a politically correct bureaucracy that hired unqualified bilingual teaching assistants and aides.


Annandale, Va., April 30, 1998

Wired for Learning

To the Editor:

Re your April 30 editorial on bilingual education: Twelve years ago my wife and I adopted three Korean children who came to this country at ages 13, 10 and 7 not speaking a word of English. After three days sleeping off their jet lag, they were enrolled in public school at the grade levels appropriate to their ages. They had minimal English as a Second Language instruction and spoke Korean to each other for the first month or so after arriving. In less than a year they were all superior students — fluent in English reading, speaking and writing.

Their best English learning tool? We got them their own phone line to talk to their friends.


Fort Collins, Colo., April 30, 1998

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