Monday, January 15, 2007

Krashen on bilingual education

(ed. comment: You do not need to know who Mr. Trampuz is- it is clear from Prof. Krashen's reply)

Sent to the Statesman-Journal (Salem, Oregon)
Re: Youths must be immersed in a language to learn it
(Jan 12)

Emilio Trampuz is partly right when he says you need
to be immersed in a language to acquire it. But
"immersion" alone won't do it. You can watch Japanese
TV all day and acquire nothing. What you hear and read
has to be comprehensible.
When Mr. Trampuz was a child in Chile, the Spanish
input he got was comprehensible, because he was
already well-educated, at grade level or above, in
Croatian, his first language, when he went to school.
He already knew math and science, for example, having
learned it in his first language, so math and science
classes in Spanish were at least partly comprehensible
to him.
Good bilingual programs are especially helpful for
children without this kind of background. These
programs supply subject matter instruction in the
first language, which makes the English they hear more comprehensible.
Research confirms that bilingual education works:
Nearly every scholar who has reviewed the research has concluded that bilingual education helps children acquire English more rapidly than "immersion" does.
One more thing: Contrary to Mr. Tampuz' statement,
bilingual programs do not limit English to thirty
minutes a day. In most programs, after a few years,
most of the school day is in English.
Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California


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