Los Angeles Times
Sunday, August 24, 1997
Letter to the Editor: More Voices on Bilingual Teaching
* It is beneath your high standards to portray bilingual education
programs as not being successful when statistics and facts prove that they
Teachers like Gloria Matta Tuchman ("Testing
the Limits of Bilingual Education," Aug. 8) feel they are doing the
best for the children, but longitudinal studies show that most students
whose second language is English and who are in an English immersion program
can't keep up with their peers academically after the fourth grade.
Of course, first-graders will show that they
do well in an English immersion classroom: What highly cognitive or abstract
concepts are tested in first grade?
Virginia Collier, a researcher of George
Mason University who has conducted a longitudinal study of bilingual programs
in the nation, has found that those whose second language is English do
well in English-only classrooms up until third grade.
Collier's study shows that after third grade
these same students do not do well on the standardized tests in English
and their scores continue to drop through high school. Is this what we
want for California? I think not.
Her longitudinal study shows that students
who have been in bilingual programs show steady growth throughout their
school experience. This information should be made public to citizens of
California so that they, as a well-informed citizenry, can be aware of
programs that do help our bilingual students succeed academically, but
never at the expense of their first language.