Reading, ‘riting and English immersion

After years of bilingual education, most Latino third graders in New Britain, Connecticut schools haven’t learned to read, reports John Tulenko in The Language War in New Britain on PBS tonight. Kelt Cooper, the district’s new superintendent, is switching to English immersion. “While initial results seem promising, opponents say students are being shortchanged,” reports Learning Matters.

Here’s the district’s explanation of the new English Language Development program.

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  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    Initial reports seem promising but the kids are being short-changed. What does that mean? Not learning about the rotten American immigration system? Or promoting return of the Southwest to Mexico?
    Learning the language as initially promising has to have something bad with it.
    Or somebody’s phoney-baloney job could be in jeopardy.
    Years ago, the Flint, MI school system’s bilingual department, which was quite large, had no less than five kids in it whose parents did not speak English. A colleague, whose last name was Spanish, enrolled her daughter because it seemed like a good way to learn Spanish.
    Same person asked my wife, a Spanish teacher, to write the quinceanero invitations for her daughter.

  2. Shortchanged how? I should think that not being able to read is pretty shortchangey.

    I think immersion is important. Kids should be able to learn another language pretty fluently in less than a year if they are immersed, and the younger the better. I did immersion my junior year in high school and by the end I sounded native, though I couldn’t yet handle serious literature. And I was on the old side.

    It’s not like the kids *can’t* learn English–but I’m not sure we’re allowing them to with a bilingual program. Is there some sort of idea here that they can’t do it? From the same people who put their own kids into bilingual programs so they’ll learn Spanish? (I have several friends who have done that.)