SO the Daily News wants to know if bilingual education is a flop.
Yes, it is.
One of the main reasons for the failure of the bilingual program is the fact that it is a huge ”cash cow” for the Los Angeles Unified School District and most likely other school districts as well.
As a 30-year employee with the LAUSD, I am in a position to see information on every single student who enters our middle school. When I see a student who was born here, has lived all of his or her life here and is now in the seventh or eighth grade and still in English as a Second Language classes, it tells me one thing loud and clear:
We have failed that child as an educational system. We have provided these students with language crutches, making it almost impossible for them to walk on their own.
The only real way to teach a person language is by immersion. The old saying, ”When in Rome . . . ” is quite true.
Another problem is the way we teach language. Our system teaches grammar right off the bat. Tell me, when you first learned to speak, did you know how to conjugate a verb? I doubt it. You just wanted to get a point across. That’s what we need to do with language classes here, as well. Learn to communicate first. The fine-tuning of grammar can come later, once the basics are instilled.
If the Los Angeles Unified School District really wants to help the foreign language speakers who enter the system, place those students with English-speaking people. Necessity really is the mother of invention.
As long as the students know they really don’t need to learn the English language, they never will. Isn’t it interesting to note that some of the folks who have come to this country from Russia and Asia in the last several years quickly adapt and learn English in about two years time? Although . . . one family I know of said their Russian-born children learned to speak Spanish almost immediately because that was the language of most of the other ESL students.
See what I mean by immersion?
Wake up, LAUSD, and smell the huevos rancheros.