The research paper must be fifteen to twenty pages in length, with ten to fifteen references, and must be comprehensive. Students must address every aspect of the topic separately and extensively as they are outlined in the assignment, and use research evidence from books, articles and professional web sites to support their arguments and conclusions. This assignment must be submitted to the instructor in week seven. Please include the cover page in Attachment #1 with your paper. This assignment is worth 30 points and will be grade according to the rubric in Attachment #3.
Topic: Bilingual education, the significant use of two languages in the basic educative process, typically has been viewed as often necessary but always unfortunate. This opinion is forcefully been expressed since the oft-quoted report on the UNESCO-sponsored meeting of specialists on the use of vernacular languages in education, convened in Paris in 1951. Since this meeting, the experts have argued that a child’s home language is the best possible medium of instruction in formal education. The report went on to say that:
It is axiomatic that the best medium for teaching a child is his mother tongue. Psychologically, it is the system of meaningful signs that in his mind works automatically for expression and understanding. Sociologically, it is a means of identification among the members of the community to which he belongs. Educationally, he learns more quickly through it than through an unfamiliar linguistic medium. (UNESCO, 1953: 11)
When vernacular education has been questioned, it has been on grounds of feasibility rather than preference. In his review of the UNESCO Monograph, Bull (1955) points to the staggering problems of implementation (very many minor languages, extensive number of languages not written, severe lack of adequate teaching materials, limited availability of trained teachers, etc.), and concludes that there is no possibility of a significant increase in vernacular education in the present century. Further, he added that:
What is best for the child psychologically and pedagogically may not be what is best for the adult socially, economically, or politically, and, what is even more significant, what is best for both the child and the adult may not be best or even possible for the society which, through its collective efforts, provides the individual with the advantages he cannot personally attain. It would seem, appropriate, as a consequence, to contemplate the fact that while getting educated is a personal matter, in contrast, providing a modern education is a social enterprise. (Bull, 1955: 290)
After this introduction to the topic, please address the following questions separately and extensively as they are outlined:
a.Which position do you support? Do you support the UNESCO’s argument that a child’s home language is the best possible medium of instruction in formal education? Why or why not? Justify your answer. (5 points)
b.If you support the UNESCO’s argument, would you still support it if the child’s native language is Haitian Creole or Swahili that has no writing system and no texts or instructional materials? (3 points)
c.How would you know if a bilingual child has a language difference or a language disability? What tests or strategies would you use to determine if this bilingual child simply has problems acquiring English as a second language, or has more serious problems acquiring language skills in any language? (7 points)
d.Would the UNESCO’s argument extend to the use of Ebonics in the classroom as a language of instruction? Would you consider an American child who speaks Ebonics as being bilingual in English and Ebonics?
Consider this: On December 18, 1996, the Oakland School Board in California passed a resolution on Ebonics stating in part that:
WHEREAS,the interests of the OaklandUnified School District in providing equal opportunities for all of its students dictate limited English proficient educational programs recognizing the English language acquisition and improvement skills of African-American children are as fundamental as is application of bilingual education principles for others whose primary languages are other than English…
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Superintendent in conjunction with her staff shall immediately devise and implement the best possible academic program for imparting instruction to African-American students in their primary language for the combined purposes of maintaining legitimacy and richness of such language whether it is known as “Ebonics,”“African Language Systems,” “Pan-African Communication Behaviors” or other description, and to facilitate their acquisition and mastery of English language skills…
Do you agree with this resolution? Do you think that African-American children who come to school speaking Ebonics should be considered as bilingual children? Do you think that Ebonics is their native language, and therefore, should be treated as any other second language?
What about the other argument that Ebonics is simply a non-standard form of the English language and that teachers need to teach children in Standard American English (SAE) and need to insist that children speak and use Standard American English in the classroom? (10 points)
- Activity: Please contact people in the Offices of Bilingual Education and the Office of
Special Education in your school district. Find out how many language minority children there are in the entire school district. How many languages and what language groups are represented in the district? What is the size of the bilingual education program in the district? Where are bilingual students with disabilities educated in the district? Does the district have a separate bilingual special education program? Please identify the web sites you visited and the people you contacted for your information.(5 points) (TESOL 2.2a, b, d; 2.3a-e)