New study confirms that long-term ESL programs trap students

posted at 2:55 pm on October 30, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

The Los Angeles Unified School District confirmed this week what many educators, parents, and critics have known for years.  Long-term bilingual education programs do not benefit students, but instead keep them locked out of the mainstream and more likely to drop out of school.  Bilingual programs need to mainstream students much earlier, and faster, if they want to improve performance:

Nearly 30% of Los Angeles Unified School District students placed in English language learning classes in early primary grades were still in the program when they started high school, increasing their chances of dropping out, according to a new study released Wednesday.

More than half of those students were born in the United States and three-quarters had been in the school district since first grade, according to the report by the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute at USC.

The findings raise questions about the teaching in the district’s English language classes, whether students are staying in the program too long and what more educators should do for students who start school unable to speak English fluently.

“If you start LAUSD at kindergarten and are still in ELL classes at ninth grade, that’s too long,” said Wendy Chavira, assistant director of the policy institute. “There is something wrong with the curriculum if there are still a very large number of students being stuck in the system.”

Bilingual education is one of those well-intentioned programs that have become sacred cows — and for that matter, cash cows for school districts.  Schools get incentivized to keep students in the program, thanks to federal funding based on head counts, rather than pushing students to get fluent in English and mainstreamed to become more competitive.

How do these students fall behind their English-speaking classmates?  Their curricula focuses on both content and language, which makes it harder for students to keep up in both, say administrators at the LAUSD.  However, that goes against the experience of language-immersion schools, with which I am familiar, as my granddaughter attends a German-language immersion charter school.  Despite no one in her household knowing German (a situation unique at the school), she has become adept enough to speak and be instructed in a no-English setting for the past year.  Her mastery of the material exceeds her grade level, as does that of most of her classmates.

Obviously, learning the language simultaneously with the material is not the big problem.  Students can do both, and do both quickly enough to keep pace in a relatively short period of time.   The problem appears to be a system that gains by locking students into a track that serves them poorly, and which perpetuates its need by that poor service. This doesn’t help, either:

All students who speak a second language at home must take a test to see whether they should be placed into classes for English learners. Once they are enrolled, they must take another test to get out. But Pachon said the process to get in is easier than it is to get out.

Why?  Ask yourself the question cui bono, and you’ll have your answer.

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Holy Cowpatties…confirmation of what we already new.

nor on October 30, 2009 at 2:58 PM

That’s unpossible.

YYZ on October 30, 2009 at 2:58 PM

I remember when Ebonics was trying to make inroads into the educational system. Talk about enslaving the population.

nor on October 30, 2009 at 2:59 PM

How much money was spent? Was taxpayer money used to study this?

upinak on October 30, 2009 at 3:00 PM

Obama: “The Tomás Rivera Policy Institute at USC is not a real research organization.”

faraway on October 30, 2009 at 3:00 PM

Well. I guess that the previous generations of immigrants weren’t so dumb for completely immersing themselves into American language and culture after all.

kingsjester on October 30, 2009 at 3:01 PM

kids are much more versatile than people give credit for. they tend to soak up the language very fast which is why ESL is bogus. the accent stays if they are older but fluency easily increases.

nyx on October 30, 2009 at 3:03 PM

Let’s destroy the national language and encourage others not to learn it through government-run schools.

THAT will surely unite us in a common American culture!

/Obamacrat off

Good Lt on October 30, 2009 at 3:03 PM

Soy sacudido!

txag92 on October 30, 2009 at 3:03 PM

I remember when Ebonics was trying to make inroads into the educational system. Talk about enslaving the population.

nor on October 30, 2009 at 2:59 PM

Shut yo mouf, Yo.

TXUS on October 30, 2009 at 3:05 PM

But isn’t Spanish the language of technology, commerce, medicine and the most common language taught in schools internationally?

Hening on October 30, 2009 at 3:05 PM

This is not surprising. They really don’t have a need to learn English. Spanish is spoken at home by their parents. Their radios and TVs are playing Spanish stations. They call someone and just have to press 2 to get Spanish. It is often said that immigrants and their children will be compelled to learn English because it is the key to joining the middle class. This is BS. Someone living in SoCal can live a middle class existence without having to be fluent in English.

Mark1971 on October 30, 2009 at 3:05 PM

The purpose of public schools are to give jobs, money and power to politicians and union bosses.

Educating children is far, far, far down the list of priorities.

Public “education” is a complete scam that siphons off hundreds of billions each year in return for mediocre (at best), education.

We spend more per capita on “education” than any industrialized nation and get very little in return.

If we had an actual media, someone might want to do a report on this.

NoDonkey on October 30, 2009 at 3:06 PM

My college roommate was of Italian heritage (second generation), and spoke Italian fluently, as well as English, having grown up in Pittsburgh.

He got to college and tried to sign up for Italian language classes because he wanted to learn to speak it better, more formally, with less slang than he had learned growing up.

Auburn’s registrar wouldn’t let him take the classes, because he already spoke Italian. He asked them if that was the case, why did they make him take two years of English classes, since he already spoke that language too.

He got no coherent answer.

bradley11 on October 30, 2009 at 3:09 PM

No comprendo senor.

rjoco1 on October 30, 2009 at 3:09 PM

More than half of those students were born in the United States and three-quarters had been in the school district since first grade, according to the report by the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute at USC.

It doesn’t MATTER if they WERE born in the United States, they are the children of illegal aliens, who DO NOT speak English and DON’T care to learn English because they live in a community that does not MAKE them SPEAK English and they live in a country that does not MAKE them SPEAK English because that would be RACIST and would not ALLOW them to COME OUT OF THE SHADOWS to obtain their FOOD STAMPS, SUBSIDISED HOUSING, PUBLIC EDUCATION and FREE HEALTHCARE on the backs of CITIZENS of the UNITED STATES that have to SUPPORT THEM and their CHILDREN when they DROP OUT OF SCHOOL because they cannot speak the ENGLISH and get jobs that will PAY for their NUMBERS of CHILDREN that will also be SUPPORTED for the rest of THEIR LIVES because the CYCLE continues.
END GAME? We need to enforce our immigration laws and change the bastardization of the 14th amendment to make sure that illegal aliens do not benefit from being in OUR COUNTRY ILLEGALLY!

HornetSting on October 30, 2009 at 3:10 PM

Soy sacudido!

txag92 on October 30, 2009 at 3:03 PM

Isn’t that a Phil Collins song?

Doughboy on October 30, 2009 at 3:10 PM

Our schools ( in CA) do not teach Spanish
They teach “Mexican”
Spanish is a language and culture
“Mexican” is a lifestyle

macncheez on October 30, 2009 at 3:10 PM

Yo no soy marinero…

Soy capitan, soy capitan.

TXUS on October 30, 2009 at 3:11 PM

But Pachon said the process to get in is easier than it is to get out.

You mean the system wants to keep these kids segregated so that more staff will be required? I’m shocked, Shocked!

NickelAndDime on October 30, 2009 at 3:11 PM

I thought that 2 years ago our District said that the State of Illinois mandated that ESL students had to take the regular English reading test which they were very nervous about because if the students didn’t perform well it would affect the school’s and the district’s NCLB ranking. Wouldn’t that put pressure on the schools to get ESL students up to the needed level and get them in mainstream classrooms?
How old is this report?

journeyintothewhirlwind on October 30, 2009 at 3:12 PM

and they cost the states an absolute fortune sadly at the expense of educating everyone in math and science and gifted teaching in AZ school budgets
and the SCOTUS says we have to provide the classes

ginaswo on October 30, 2009 at 3:13 PM

It is often said that immigrants and their children will be compelled to learn English because it is the key to joining the middle class.
Mark1971 on October 30, 2009 at 3:05 PM

I haven’t seen anyone who is not at least somewhat fluent in english in the middle class. I live in NoVa, one of the most diverse areas in the United States, and I don’t think I hear too many people fundamentally not understanding the english language. Not fluency and perfect accent but understanding orders or comments.

nyx on October 30, 2009 at 3:13 PM

Isn’t that a Phil Collins song?

Doughboy on October 30, 2009 at 3:10 PM

¿Qué? Yo no hablo inglés. LOL!

txag92 on October 30, 2009 at 3:14 PM

Wasn’t there a whole class of people in the US once who were legally barred from learning to read and write English? Oh, yeah…they were called “slaves”.

Keeping these kids in perpetual bi-lingual (which usually means “no English”) education guarantees a second-class citizenry in perpetuity.

flipflop on October 30, 2009 at 3:15 PM

Given the richness of my experience as a Wise Latino, I find that full immersion is the only way to go. It’s how I became bilingual at the age of 4 and a half. If it’s good enough for this kid from Brooklyn, it’s good enough for these kids, too.

Jorge Bonilla on October 30, 2009 at 3:16 PM

They had ESL in my high school. It was limited to one class once or twice a week for kids who were FOB. Younger kids will do fine in total immersion.

In California, they got rid of bi-lingual education when the voters put it up to vote via proposition. A year later, there was a small article in the LAT that test scores were proving it a success. Before the vote, the press bombarded us with stories about how horrible and racist we were for even contemplating getting rid of it.

Blake on October 30, 2009 at 3:17 PM

The school district I work at has bilingual teachers that can hardly speak English. How well do you think their students will do?

Doughboy on October 30, 2009 at 3:18 PM

They should try analyzing the Minneapolis schools. Bilingual? They have paid tutors whose only job is to walk around with kids who don’t speak English and translate for them; there are kids graduating high school who speak only Hmong or Somali.

Bishop on October 30, 2009 at 3:19 PM

My maternal grandparents were Norwegian immigrants who settled in a small midwestern town with many Norwegians in the early Twentieth Century. They spoke Norwegian at home. When my oldest uncle went off to first grade, it was all-English, sink-or-swim, and learn it fast. So he did. And brought it home and taught his younger brothers and sisters, who each went off to grade school with better proficiency than the last.

Grandparents eventually were fluent in English. All the kids finished high school and went on to some kind of post-secondary education (college, vo-tech school, secretarial course).

But then they were all very motivated to “be American.”

Wethal on October 30, 2009 at 3:19 PM

Wasn’t Obama complaining during his campaign that Americans can’t speak European languages and he wants all Americans to learn Spanish
or something along those lines ?

macncheez on October 30, 2009 at 3:22 PM

Wasn’t Obama complaining during his campaign that Americans can’t speak European languages and he wants all Americans to learn Spanish
or something along those lines ?

macncheez on October 30, 2009 at 3:22 PM

He also thinks Austrians speak Austrian.

Doughboy on October 30, 2009 at 3:25 PM


“ESL”…

English as a
FIRST Language

now…that’s something I can get behind…

Lockstein13 on October 30, 2009 at 3:26 PM

macncheez on October 30, 2009 at 3:22 PM

Wasn’t it French? Or maybe “Austrian”?

Wethal on October 30, 2009 at 3:26 PM

And how much money was spent to discover this?

My mother taught in the public education system in California for years. She believed from the beginning that bilingual education was causing irreparable harm to the school systems where it was most prevalent. She taught in San Diego for a decade and was immensely distress by how poorly the bilingual kids performed.

I have no problem with kids being bilingual. But they need to learn English as quickly and effectively as possible, and not be coddled. I knew plenty of kids growing up whose parents (usually from Asia–interesting that) forced them to learn English. They weren’t allowed to speak their native tongue in the house. It wasn’t that the parents rejected their heritage. They just understood what was necessary to integrate well into our society. These kids almost always excelled in school, and usually ended up going to a better college or university as a result.

This is a perfect example of the consequences of a nanny-state.

Whoever financed this study, I’d like them to contact my mom. I’m sure they’ll come up with some more money, and a stupid self-evident issue that desperately needs to be looked into. She’ll gladly take their money and submit a report from Maui….

nukemhill on October 30, 2009 at 3:26 PM

I don’t believe in ESL anyway – all those predictions and mind-reading stunts are usually fake.

(do I really need an /s here?)

Daggett on October 30, 2009 at 3:27 PM

Wasn’t Obama complaining during his campaign that Americans can’t speak European languages and he wants all Americans to learn Spanish
or something along those lines ?

macncheez on October 30, 2009 at 3:22 PM

Can Dear Leader speak fluent Spanish?

nyx on October 30, 2009 at 3:27 PM

My maternal grandparents were Norwegian immigrants who settled in a small midwestern town with many Norwegians in the early Twentieth Century. They spoke Norwegian at home. When my oldest uncle went off to first grade, it was all-English, sink-or-swim, and learn it fast. So he did. And brought it home and taught his younger brothers and sisters, who each went off to grade school with better proficiency than the last.

Grandparents eventually were fluent in English. All the kids finished high school and went on to some kind of post-secondary education (college, vo-tech school, secretarial course).

But then they were all very motivated to “be American.”

Bingo. That’s why they came here in the first place, and that is why they pushed their kids.

Becoming American is a privilege. It’s an honor. And it’s hard work.

But the payoff is priceless.

nukemhill on October 30, 2009 at 3:28 PM

Wouldn’t it just be cheaper to take 50% of the money we spend on public “education” in order to pay off the leeches who are there simply to steal the funding?

Take your money and go away, leeches. You don’t have to do anything except stay the hell away from our schools.

That way, we could use the other 50%, and use it to actually educate children, without interference from the leeches.

I guarantee far better results than what we’re getting now.

NoDonkey on October 30, 2009 at 3:29 PM

It’s almost as if the people pushing these ELL classes want to create a permanent underclass of people who can’t survive without government help.

mbs on October 30, 2009 at 3:29 PM

Can Dear Leader speak fluent Spanish?

nyx on October 30, 2009 at 3:27 PM

no. But he knows all the important words; comunista, socialista, marxista, etc.

elduende on October 30, 2009 at 3:30 PM

The entire process was flawed from the start because of the wrong emphasis on english language training. Instead of teaching english as a second language (ESL), english should have been taught as the primary language (EPL). In addition, much of the language problem could have been avoided if our nation had english as our national language.

docdave on October 30, 2009 at 3:32 PM

Tears back, when I was in the middle of my Secondary Education program at a major Midwest university…bilingual education, ESL, was the rage…seemed everybody was writing papers extolling the virtues of it.

Looking at our own history, being a historian, of course, I presented a few papers showing how in our various waves of immigration those who made learning English a priority had more successful integration into society, and more importantly, the economy. Those who chose or preferred to keep their mother language exclsuively and picked up bits and pieces of English along the way, suffered socially and economically.

Of course, the Education establishment dismissed my findings as being “outdated” and “anecdotal.”

My own experience overseas for a couple decades showed the same…if you do not get in there and learn the language of the country in which you reside, you lose…across the board.

Common sense. No multi-million-dollar grant needed to prove the obvious.

But, the local university is still pushing the bi-lingual, ESL, meme…and those who stand to lose the most…immigrants…are among the crowd demanding ESL and bi-lingual education in this state.

Common sense, presently an uncommon virtue.

coldwarrior on October 30, 2009 at 3:32 PM

Given the richness of my experience as a Wise Latino, I find that full immersion is the only way to go. It’s how I became bilingual at the age of 4 and a half. If it’s good enough for this kid from Brooklyn, it’s good enough for these kids, too.

Jorge Bonilla on October 30, 2009 at 3:16 PM

Yo también. But, as an Unwise Anglo, I did it the opposite way, learning Spanish as a very young child via full immersion. I was the only English speaking kid in my neighborhood and half my school, thus learning both languages at the same time.

So, immersion works every time it’s tried.

TXUS on October 30, 2009 at 3:32 PM

I was spending a little time in a local fast food restuarant and struck up a converstaion with a young 20ish woman who started a conversation saying that when she graduated from Woodburn HS (between Portland and Salem Oregon, huge Mexican population)she couldn’t speak a word of English because it was not required in school. At the time she had been out of high school a little over 2 years and she was fluent in English. But the manager at this particular restaurant did not allow Spanish and she had no choice.
We are not doing anyone any favors by spending the money to teach in Spanish to spanish only kids.

ORconservative on October 30, 2009 at 3:32 PM

My kdg is in a Japanese Dual Language program. One day everything is in English , the next it is Japanese. They try to keep a 50-50 ratio of Japanese/other to English speaking students so that they can help each other out.
It does work if it is set up correctly. She gets to learn Japanese and she is there to help someone learn English. And they both get a better chance at a high paying job if they stick with it and master both languages.

We also have a violin program Kdg-6th grade. And art. And regular music classes. And library time. And it is public school.

journeyintothewhirlwind on October 30, 2009 at 3:34 PM

But then they were all very motivated to “be American.”
Wethal on October 30, 2009

Let’s be honest. The language we’re talking about these days is Spanish and the source is primarily Mexicans who are constantly told that it’s OK eschew acclimation even though they are living in the US. There is no motivation to become American even though that attitude will limit their futures. What does this remind you of? Welfare mentality, anyone? This is true racism because it keeps a whole group of people from achieving that which is promised to all Americans; opportunity.

SKYFOX on October 30, 2009 at 3:34 PM

Tears back, when…

coldwarrior on October 30, 2009 at 3:32 PM

Years, not tears. [Then again....]

coldwarrior on October 30, 2009 at 3:34 PM

Can Dear Leader speak fluent Spanish?

nyx on October 30, 2009 at 3:27 PM

No but that Bush moron, who couldn’t speak coherent English, certainly was fluent en Español. /s

TXUS on October 30, 2009 at 3:35 PM

I knew a child who grew up in the LAUSD. She was blonde haired and blue eyed. In her elementary school, she was shoved into an ESL track because that was all they had and they mostly spoke spanish all through her elementary school years. In her early years at school, she was way behind where she should have been in reading comprehension and math. Finally she caught up in junior high. It was pathetic. LAUSD is the worst school district in the world. Once I was exposed to the public school system in California, I became an avid supporter of school vouchers for all kids with no strings attached. Taxpayers would save money and kids would get a better education, if allowed to take their vouchers to any school they wish.

karenhasfreedom on October 30, 2009 at 3:39 PM

Can Dear Leader speak fluent Spanish?

nyx on October 30, 2009 at 3:27 PM

Barry thinks Spanish is the language of indigenous Mexicans.

He can’t speak Spanish, but he is brushing up on his Austrian.

NoDonkey on October 30, 2009 at 3:40 PM

SKYFOX on October 30, 2009 at 3:34 PM

The next time you go to the grocery store or drug store, check out how many packages are now bilingual.

Wethal on October 30, 2009 at 3:44 PM

Can Dear Leader speak fluent Spanish?

nyx on October 30, 2009 at 3:27 PM

no. But he knows all the important words; comunista, socialista, marxista, cocaina, maricon, Kenya…etc

elduende on October 30, 2009 at 3:47 PM

Wethal on October 30, 2009 at 3:44 PM

I’ve noticed my German beer has German writing on it.

To that I say, “Prost!”!

NoDonkey on October 30, 2009 at 3:48 PM

Barry thinks Spanish is the language of indigenous Mexicans.
He can’t speak Spanish, but he is brushing up on his Austrian.

NoDonkey on October 30, 2009 at 3:40 PM

I’m sure he’s quite fluent in Russian and Mandarin.

TXUS on October 30, 2009 at 3:50 PM

Duhhhhhh!!!

right2bright on October 30, 2009 at 3:50 PM

No but that Bush moron, who couldn’t speak coherent English, certainly was fluent en Español. /s

TXUS on October 30, 2009 at 3:35 PM

Good thing we have a brilliant president who can sometimes read english but who can speak neither proper english nor spanish.

Barry is telelingual with a lot “uhs” sprinkled in.

NoDonkey on October 30, 2009 at 3:51 PM

Dis study be raaaaacist.

GnuBreed on October 30, 2009 at 3:51 PM

In the early 1980′s I went to jr. high with some Laotian/ Cambodian kids. They couldn’t have been in the country very long. They took some classes as group-and some classes with the regular student body-which resulted in those students being passable English speakers in a very short time.
Had my classmates been taught under the current system they still might not be able to communicate outside of their “community”.

annoyinglittletwerp on October 30, 2009 at 3:53 PM

What is this “United States of America” that you habla…?

Seven Percent Solution on October 30, 2009 at 4:02 PM

Barry is telelingual with a lot “uhs” sprinkled in.

NoDonkey on October 30, 2009 at 3:51 PM

He is the El TOTUSta

macncheez on October 30, 2009 at 4:03 PM

What they really need to do to integrate Hispanic children whose parents don’t speak English is to teach them to SPEAK English in pre-school and kindergarten, then they go to first grade where the teachers speak only English.

My son was born in France, and spent his first 4-1/2 years in France, and although I tried to teach him English there, he was then unwilling to learn it. At age 4-1/2, we moved to the States, and my son suddenly discovered a whole country who “spoke funny like Daddy”. He attended an all-English pre-school for half a year, then an all-English kindergarten, and when he started first grade he was as fluent in English as his classmates, without an accent. When he was in fifth grade, another French boy joined his class, and the teachers sat him next to my son to help him learn English, which he also learned within six months.

Let’s face it, French and Spanish are both derived from Latin roots, so it shouldn’t be any harder for a Spanish-speaking child to learn English than for a French-speaking child like my son.

Children under the age of about 8 years old learn languages MUCH faster than older people, including older children. If English is not their native tongue, the best time to teach them English is when they’re very young, then let them sink or swim in English like everyone else. English-only instruction is NOT anti-Hispanic–it actually gives them an advantage (of being bilingual) over mono-lingual Americans later in life!

Steve Z on October 30, 2009 at 4:04 PM

The military runs a number of schools where foreign military officers attend and also bring their families. The children attend local schools.

As an example, the Leavenworth, Kansas school system often teaches children where German, Arabic, Spanish, and other languages are spoken at home. Usually, after a year, these children speak English like typical American kids. Even better, these children are taught without benefit of linguistic teacher aids.

Somehow, our professional educators convinced the education establishment/industry that alien children couldn’t be taught without special programs and the taxpayers have been paying for it ever since.

Special Forces Grunt on October 30, 2009 at 4:08 PM

Here in El Paso there was an article about an elementary school that should be shuttered (it only has about 1/3 of the students that it could be serving and has failing scores in a couple of areas), but no- they have a better idea. They want to make it bi-lingual. And then they want to siphon off a portion of the students from FT Bliss and have them attend it. But my favorite quote in the article was from a mom saying that she hopes they do it because her kids don’t speak English. Huh? Does she just not teach her kids English or does she not know it and her remarks were translated?

I have gone from trying to speak Spanish in the little market by us to just saying “English only.” I’ve been loving the looks of shock. I’ve even told a couple of people that if I went to Mexico I would try to speak Spanish, but here, in America, I speak English.

cibolo on October 30, 2009 at 4:08 PM

kids are much more versatile than people give credit for. they tend to soak up the language very fast which is why ESL is bogus. the accent stays if they are older but fluency easily increases.

nyx on October 30, 2009 at 3:03 PM

They learn English if they are actually exposed to it and forced (by circumstances) to learn it in order to get along in life. But that is not the case in California and much of the southwest U.S. Here in AZ, the cable television stations broadcast many channels in Spanish; there are many stores where Spanish is the primary language spoken [e.g., the local Walmart in my area was making all its in-store announcements in Spanish (only) until too many customers complained; Walmart also recently opened a large, Mexican-themed and Spanish-speaking superstore in the Phoenix area]; all voter ballots (and official instructional/informational booklets about voting) are printed in Spanish; the DMV gives drivers’ licensing tests in Spanish; government websites all have a Spanish-language version; kids are taught in Spanish in the public schools, etc., etc.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that so many second-generation hispanics living in the U.S. still can’t speak English. The sad truth is, they don’t have to speak it. The idiot liberals who run our education system (and who currently run our pathetic government) have made “assimilation” a dirty word. Their moronic insistence that all cultures are equal and that promoting American culture and the English language to U.S. immigrants is somehow “racist” or “xenophobic” has, as usual, backfired on the very group of people the liberals were “helping” in the first place. If not for the fact that liberal idiocy is destroying our nation, their never-ending stupidity might actually be funny.

AZCoyote on October 30, 2009 at 4:10 PM

AZCoyote on October 30, 2009 at 4:10 PM

Anyone liberals try to “help”, come out worse in the deal.

Who are liberals three favorite victim groups?

- 1) Blacks
- 2) American Indians
- 3) Latinos

They’ve absolutely destroyed the black family. The KKK could not have possibly done a better job of encouraging dependency on the state, at separating black fathers from their children and at destroying educational opportunities for inner city children.

They’ve done everything possible to keep American Indians drunk and on reservations, instead of encouraging assimiliation.

Latinos better wise up. If you want to be kept as the mascots of Democrats, you are going to be losers forever in order to keep you voting Democrat.

NoDonkey on October 30, 2009 at 4:15 PM

Ed:

“ESL” is not the same as “bilingual.”

ESL is just a class to teach English to foreigners. I teach it myself on occasion.

“Bilingual” is the parallel education of children in their native language. Morons who promoted this program asserted that kids need up to 3 years to learn English, when in fact it takes kids only a couple of months to pick it up.

Ergo, your headline is misleading.

dicentra63 on October 30, 2009 at 4:23 PM

Duh!

Star20 on October 30, 2009 at 4:34 PM

Bilingual education is one of those well-intentioned programs that have become sacred cows — and for that matter, cash cows for school districts. Schools get incentivized to keep students in the program, thanks to federal funding based on head counts, rather than pushing students to get fluent in English and mainstreamed to become more competitive.

Of course, it’s not just the school districts who are the sacred cows of the Democrats.

The classic school of this nature Academia Semillas Del Pueblo School, has a GreatSchools score of “1″ for English Learners, which means that if you go to this school not knowing English, you will, with a probability close to 1.0, come out of it not knowing English.

unclesmrgol on October 30, 2009 at 4:35 PM

Indefinite articles are especially hard, right Barry?

Christien on October 30, 2009 at 4:45 PM

My friend’s mom taught at an elementary school in Texas in a district that had a lot of immigrant children.

Her class had children that spoke Bahasa, Tagalog, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian and a whole lot more. By the end of one year in her class, most of the children had learned enough English that they were able to be mainstreamed. It was very rare that a child spent more than 2 years in her class.

The other bilingual program at the school was for Spanish speakers only. It was taught by a teacher that was fluent in Spanish (which means that she was paid more than my friend’s mom). Most of her students stayed in the class all through elementary and continued the program into junior high.

My friend’s mom didn’t have any special training in bilingual education. She had no special skill set that made her especially good at teaching English to non-English speakers. She was a regular teacher that got offered the job because she had lived in Indonesia for 2 years (though she had never learned more than 5 or 6 words in Bahasa because languages aren’t her thing).

If kids have to learn English, they will.

JadeNYU on October 30, 2009 at 4:53 PM

Of course, the Education establishment dismissed my findings as being “outdated” and “anecdotal.”

Translation: The findings were based on experience and facts.

You’ve got to understand that the higher education-biz is not about finding the truth anymore, but in deconstructing existing knowledge in order to allow academicians to write more papers on radical new theories that don’t work. When those new theories are actually put into practice (only in government-run sectors, since the real world can’t afford ideas that don’t work) the result is wasted resources and damaged lives, like the bilingual programs have produced.

For a further example, see: “global warming”.

Socratease on October 30, 2009 at 4:57 PM

Sprechen Sie Deutsch.

Johan Klaus on October 30, 2009 at 4:57 PM

Yo no soy marinero…

Soy capitan, soy capitan.

TXUS on October 30, 2009 at 3:11 PM

I never put soy in a marinara sauce. Lots of basil though.

Oldnuke on October 30, 2009 at 4:58 PM

I remember when Ebonics was trying to make inroads into the educational system. Talk about enslaving the population.

nor on October 30, 2009 at 2:59 PM
Shut yo mouf, Yo.

TXUS on October 30, 2009 at 3:05 PM

Ha ha!
I went to HS in Tyler at John Tyler HS-Ebonics was alive & well there.
I recall being a minority in that school: me a little ol’ white girl.

Badger40 on October 30, 2009 at 5:17 PM

instead of encouraging assimiliation.

NoDonkey on October 30, 2009 at 4:15 PM

And BTW trolls-assimilation does NOT mean you have to sacrifice your culture.
You can still have BOTH.

Badger40 on October 30, 2009 at 5:19 PM

No Habla.

BobMbx on October 30, 2009 at 5:21 PM

Who are liberals three favorite victim groups?

- 1) Blacks
- 2) American Indians
- 3) Latinos

NoDonkey strikes gold again! Where are the yellow people? Oh wait…isn’t that the newest “minority” group in the USA, and behold….they got their shit together. No victims in ChinaTown. Just hard working, leave us alone kinda folks.

They knew when they got here the American Dream was something they had to work for…not demand as soon as the shoes dried.

BobMbx on October 30, 2009 at 5:24 PM

This should be a shot in the arm for proenglish.org

Christian Conservative on October 30, 2009 at 5:35 PM

NoDonkey strikes gold again! Where are the yellow people? Oh wait…isn’t that the newest “minority” group in the USA, and behold….they got their shit together. No victims in ChinaTown. Just hard working, leave us alone kinda folks.

They knew when they got here the American Dream was something they had to work for…not demand as soon as the shoes dried.

I would add the folks from the middle east to that group, too. They seem to find a business market niche and go after it and use entrepreneurship to gain financial independence here.

I sort of feel left out, having been raised in the system here. We were told that we had to work hard in school, get an education, and we would have a good job for life. Man were we LIED to!!! I wish instead my parents had told me that I had to rely on my own wits to make a living because corporate America was NOT where job security was going to be for the later born baby boomers. I definitely hammered that home to my nephew and his generation “gets it”. They know they have to work hard and rely on themselves because corporate america isn’t the life long job anymore and the boomers are going to bankrupt the country in unfunded entitlements like social security and medicare.

karenhasfreedom on October 30, 2009 at 5:40 PM

The big news of the article is that the ESL kids were mostly born in the United States.

IOW we are undergoing reverse assimilation here in Los Angeles.

PattyJ on October 30, 2009 at 6:08 PM

I think the students are only encouraged to learn english by the amount it is valued among their community. I’m teaching English in South Korea now and the kids are highly encouraged to learn English. I teach until 10:00 PM and then the kids that failed their daily tests go to detention until 11:00 PM. They study like he11.

I see kids walking alone through the streets past 11:00 PM. I grew up just across from Detroit. The thought just keeps running through my mind when I see the kids, “If you were in Detroit, you would be so raped or killed.” But they are just getting home from the after school schools.

One of my students goes to school on Tuesday and Thursday. At 4:00 PM she comes to English classes for 3 hours. After that, she goes to piano classes for another 3 hours. She’s 13 years old. So on those days, she’s been in school from 9:00 AM until 10:00 PM. That’s kind of normal here. And her English is excellent. She’s encouraged to learn.

I’ve heard the phrase “acting white” used derogatively by black kids towards black kids getting good grades. I wonder if that same situation may apply to those learning English. Some cultures just value education more.

Canadian Infidel on October 30, 2009 at 6:27 PM

It’s a good thing it is so easy for the schools to sabotage a kid’s education. If a kid gets an education and does well in life the chance of him becoming a Republican are dangerously increased.

snaggletoothie on October 30, 2009 at 6:29 PM

Here’s an acronym legend for you:

BIL = Bilingual Education, which is taught in two languages
ESL = English as a Second Language (so named because of the way the brain learns a second language as opposed to a first; the language may be the third or fourth learned language). ESL is taught in English only.
ELL = English language learner
LEP = limited English proficient
ESOL = English for Speakers of Other Languages

In TX, where I teach ESL, the program in elementary school can be BIL or ESL. But in secondary it must be ESL. ESL is supposed to be full immersion in English, taught with specific methods to encourage the transfer of language. However, as one poster noted, the problem with Spanish-speaking students is that they are immersed in Spanish outside of school and avoid English in school as much as possible. Other ESL students typically learn English faster because they NEED English to survive.

The remark in the article is correct in that it is easier to get into ESL than to get out. The oral test we use to exit requires the kids to know specific words such as “piggy bank,” “obelisk,” “Arc de Triomphe,” “sari,” “epaulet.” These are not words they would necessarily have come across if they, for example, arrived in the U.S. as high schoolers or if they don’t speak English at home. Many native speakers have trouble scoring ‘fluent’ on the test.

Like all regular ed students, ESL students in TX also have to pass the state TAKS test with no accommodations in order to graduate. Some graduate with exiting from ESL!

StormsWillPass on October 30, 2009 at 7:19 PM

Obama wants all Americans to learn Spanish. But do you think he would he also say that all Americans should learn English?

StormsWillPass on October 30, 2009 at 7:21 PM

Bilingual education is one of those well-intentioned programs that have become sacred cows — and for that matter, cash cows for school districts. Schools get incentivized to keep students in the program, thanks to federal funding based on head counts, rather than pushing students to get fluent in English and mainstreamed to become more competitive.

You mean schools do whatever it takes to make an extra buck?!? I thought only “eeeeevil” corporations did that…

Neo-con Artist on October 30, 2009 at 8:01 PM

But do you think he would he also say that all Americans should learn English?

StormsWillPass on October 30, 2009 at 7:21 PM

Um, how would that get him the votes he wants?

misslizzi on October 30, 2009 at 9:26 PM

What?! This is not what my professors told me!!!

Just within the past year I had to read a book explaining to my little brain, why bilingual education is far better.

http://www.amazon.com/Under-Attack-Against-Bilingual-Education/dp/0965280829/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1256959951&sr=8-1

El_Terrible on October 30, 2009 at 11:34 PM

I am a born Californian who has lived in Montreal since 1948. One of my best friends is the daughter of a single English mom. The little girl grew up speaking English and having only English friends. She knew very little French. But in Quebec it is hard to get into an English school if you are from another province — even if you are from an old English Canadian family. So she was enrolled in a French kindergarten when she was five. She was pretty scared. In Quebec there were (and are) no special French classes for English speaking kids — it is speak French from the get-go and “manger de la merde” if you don’t like it. Her teachers were used to the problem and helpful. She was speaking passable French in about a month, and excellent French by the end of the year. She is sixteen now and it completely bilingual. She writes excellent French and maintains her own website in French and corresponds in French via hotmail like any computer literate teenager.

I suspect that the main reason that the Democrats of LA like “bilingual” schools comes from a long habit of thinking like an elitist Plantation owner of the Democrat persuasion (listen to Barbara Boxer being condescending to her inferiors). Californian Democrats deliberately limit the opportunities for Mexicans so that they of the intellectual elite can have a cheap labor force available to do jobs that the aristocratic older families of California find demeaning. In 1809 these same families, before emigrating to California, did not want their “cotton-pikin’” black slaves to have an education for the same reason.

donbury on October 30, 2009 at 11:58 PM

Are you suggesting that if they can keep minorities isolated then they can keep frustration and a feeling of victimization alive?

So for the white proletariat they have to overload the system, meanwhile for the minorities, they can frustrate them in other ways, eventually getting their support for fundamental change, sometimes called “revolution”.

Axeman on October 31, 2009 at 12:29 AM

Ed, your headline’s wrong. Just a clarification: bilingual education programs are not ESL programs, although LA Unified may treat them the same in the budget etc. As a former ESL teacher, I can tell you that my goal and that of my colleagues was to help the students become competent in English: bilingual education programs have the goal of teaching subjects like math while the teacher conducts the math class in Spanish or whatever non-English language is considered dominant.

BemusedMalkinite on October 31, 2009 at 1:59 AM

Sorry Storms, I posted that before reading your superior explanation.

Don’t mess with Texans!

BemusedMalkinite on October 31, 2009 at 2:01 AM

I remember when Ebonics was trying to make inroads into the educational system. Talk about enslaving the population.

nor on October 30, 2009 at 2:59 PM

Shut yo mouf, Yo.

TXUS on October 30, 2009 at 3:05 PM

There’s a different sentence structure in Vernacular Black English. Verbs are used in their infinitive form and modified by both adjective and pronoun. There’s some phonological differences also, including the tendency to drop final consonants which TXUS so (c)rudely imitates. Ebonics, which is mildly defamatory term, never made inroads past VBE being analyzed for differences so students could be coached into Standard English speech patterns. I did some of that coaching/tutoring as a college student for fellow college students back in the day, helping them pass Speech 100. The professor in charge of the program was bluntly honest to the participants, telling them to succeed that had to be able to switch into “whitey” or they would never get through an interview process applying as a college graduate for a job.

MarkT on October 31, 2009 at 9:54 AM

SKYFOX on October 30, 2009 at 3:34 PM
The next time you go to the grocery store or drug store, check out how many packages are now bilingual.

Wethal on October 30, 2009

I see it every week and it convinces me that I am right. The longer we make it easier for people to not become part of American society, the harder it will be for them to reap the benefits of the great opportunities that will again exist once we rid outselves of Obama and his fascist butt buddies.

SKYFOX on October 31, 2009 at 10:36 AM

This is not surprising. They really don’t have a need to learn English. Spanish is spoken at home by their parents. Their radios and TVs are playing Spanish stations. They call someone and just have to press 2 to get Spanish. It is often said that immigrants and their children will be compelled to learn English because it is the key to joining the middle class. This is BS. Someone living in SoCal can live a middle class existence without having to be fluent in English.

Mark1971 on October 30, 2009 at 3:05 PM

Mark1971: You may have had a point 30 years ago, but the microcomputer changed everything.

Because the computer is primarily the invention of English speakers, because picture languages aren’t suitable for keyboard entry, because of the pervasiveness of the Internet, and for many other reasons, you MUST know English to survive in the modern technically-oriented world.

Those who cannot understand, read, or write English will be disadvantaged for their entire lives. You may not like it, but by default, English is the world-wide Universal Language.

landlines on October 31, 2009 at 4:07 PM