U.S. English Spreads Myths and Misconceptions About Dual Immersion Programs

by multilingualmania on October 17, 2009

in Bilingual Myths and Misconceptions, Dual Immersion


Today I found a podcast from the U.S. English organization, an organization designed to promote English-only education and legislation. The podcast outlines the supposed disadvantages of Dual Immersion education, programs which integrate English and Spanish speakers in order to promote bilingualism and biliteracy. Throughout the podcast, they perpetuate many myths and misconceptions about Dual Immersion programs, which I would like to address and debunk:

  • The podcast makes it seem as if Dual Immersion is only available in Spanish and English. However, there are many Dual Immersion programs that promote English and a language other than Spanish. Many programs build biliteracy in Chinese, Korean, French, etc. In order to have a Dual Immersion program, you must have native-speakers of the target language within each classroom that serve as language models for English-speaking students. If there are few native-speakers of Chinese in a certain area, it is not feasible to have a Dual Immersion program.
  • At one point the speaker states that it’s “not fair” for a Vietnamese student to be placed in a Dual Immersion program and forced to learn Spanish and English. However, students are not arbitrarily placed in Dual Immersion programs nor are they forced to stay in a bilingual program. Dual Immersion programs are based on parent choice and parents choose to place their children in the program. Anti-bilingual education activists perpetuate this myth in order to raise the general public’s fear about forced bilingualism.
  • The speaker states that by teaching two languages, Dual Immersion programs spend “less time” teaching Science, Math and History than other programs. This assertion is absolutely false. One of the main tenets of Dual Immersion education is that language is taught through content, meaning that students learn content (i.e. Science, Social Studies, etc) as they simultaneously learn English and the target language (i.e., Spanish, Chinese, etc).  In fact, due to the No Child Left Behind Act, many programs, including English-only programs, throughout the nation have restricted their programs to only teaching Language Arts and Math for the purpose of raising test scores. If there are any Dual Immersion programs that are being forced to restrict their instructional minutes to the exclusive teaching of Language Arts and Math, it is as a result of the pressure of standardized testing and NOT because it is a Dual Immersion program.  It has been my personal experience that Dual Immersion programs actually teach more Science and Social Studies than the traditional English-only classroom.

Listen for yourself to the podcast so that you are aware of the systematic lies and myths that are constantly spread by anti-bilingual advocacy groups. It’s important that as bilingual education advocates that you are aware of the claims that such organizations make and are able to articulate a counterargument.

Articles About Bilingual Education:
Critical Components of Effective Bilingual Programs
Can Schools Force a Child to Stay in a Bilingual Program?

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