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Voices For and Against Illinois' Mandate for Bilingual Education

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An author of a letter to the editor of the Daily Herald published today contends that some school districts in Illinois are fulfilling the state's mandate to provide bilingual education by hiring Spanish-speaking teachers who aren't fluent in English nor certified to teach. She says Illinois should provide flexibility for schools to choose the method to teach English-language learners. I came across the letter over at TESOL in the News Blog. Someone called VLN, who apparently favors the mandate, writes in the comment section below the letter: "It's not just about learning English. It's about preserving their native language and culture. We don't want to be conquering colonists, do we?"

See my earlier post about this issue, "Illinois School District Runs Up Against Bilingual Mandate."

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Many students have continued in bilingual programs too long, resulting in developing poor English reading and writing skills. Developing proficiency in English does not have to mean losing one's culture. If nothing else, students still "live their culture" when they go home in the afternoon. Teachers should be fluent in the language they are teaching (English), and not isolate students by attempting to instruct each group of students in their native language, as most student populations in cities do not deal with only one other L1 group. Celebrate the backgrounds of the students, but teach them English!

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