Friday, June 22, 2012

Let's Tell the Public the Truth about Bilingual Education!

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We want YOU!

I completed my student teaching in a first grade bilingual classroom in the fall of 1998 and graduated from college in the spring of 1999.  While I occasionally heard about Proposition 227 that was passed in June of 1998, California seemed a long way away from my college in Illinois and my home in Texas.  I didn't know that I was choosing a controversial career.  I wasn't trying to pick a fight.  I just knew that being a bilingual teacher was the most enjoyable, exciting, and meaningful thing I had ever done.

Stephen Krashen is a favorite researcher/advocate for bilingual education.  He gave this keynote address at the NABE Conference in 2004.  It is titled "Let's Tell the Public the Truth about Bilingual Education".  Responding to the threat of the English-only movement, he says:

Clearly bilingual educators must make greater efforts to communicate with the media and the public in general, to use both traditional means (e.g. letters to the editor, magazine articles) and more recent, innovative means (the internet).  Reporters generally contact official organizations for comments on issues; it is crucial that professional organizations be ready with clear and concise answers to frequently asked questions, and that they respond to all attacks on bilingual education.  Failure to answer an attack is perceived as conceding the point.  When advocates do answer, they can use the space provided as another opportunity to educate the public, whenever possible repeating the core arguments:  Bilingual education is successful in helping children acquire English, and there are good reasons why it is successful.

Bilingual education needs more advocates and "the internet", while no longer considered "recent", is still one of our biggest and best mediums to communicate the awesomeness that is happening in our classrooms.  The teacher bloggy world is HUGE but it is sadly lacking bilingual teacher bloggers.

Would you consider adding your voice?  You don't have to wax on about the virtues of a bilingual education.  You just need to take pictures of the work that your students are producing and post them.  Check out the list of bilingual/dual language teacher blogs in the right margin.  I would love to add your name!

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