Okay, I must chime in here although I do not "fit" into either of the two camps I see here
First of all, I am very conservative and as "pro-USA", flag-waving, as they come living in the Bible-belt of the good 'ole United States of America. (someone called dual-langauge supporters "Liberal". I have never been called liberal before :)
However, with that said, I am also a HUGE supporter of dual-langauge or immersion programs in the Elementary schools. My impetus is not for the children that can not speak English, but for MY mono-lingual child, for whom I want the best education possible.
I must also add that I see this through "an educator's eyes". I hold a Ph.D. in Early Childhood/Reading Education. I will not pontificate here about all of the cognitive advantages of children participating in dual-language or immersion programs, but there are many. It simply makes the brain "think" in a different way. There is a plethora of longitudinal empirical research to support this. If one is truly interested in the numerous benefits you couls check CAL or CARLA. ALso, it is much, much, easier if done at an early age when when the brain is primed for language acquisition. High school is much too late for many learners. How many people do you know that sat through 3 yrs of high school language and now can't speak a lick (MYSELF included).Learning at the secondary level works for a few, but not for most!
I want the most for my daughter and want her to be able to compete in a global enconomy and thus am extremely interested in her becoming bilingual and biliterate if not multi-lingual and multi-literate.
When I use to teach language development classes to educators I would always start with the old joke...
Q) What do you call a person who speaks 2 langauges? Answer) bilingual
Q) What do you call a person who speaks 3 langusages? Answer) trilingual
Q) What do you call a person who speaks 1 langauge?????
We are one of the few educated nation that only teaches our students 1 langauge in the school sysytem. The last statistic I read said that less than 9% of adults in the US are bilingual, compared to 40-60% of other developed nations.
I want my daughter to be able to compete in a GLOBAL society and to have more job choices than being a WalMart greeter or asking "do you want fries with that?" Knowing a second or third langauge WILL help her compete in the job market and even if she NEVER "uses" the second language she will have life-long benefits from the cognitive benefits of learning a second language at an early age.
For me, it has NOTHING to do with "Lil' Pedro" as others suggested. It is about giving my daughter a leg up.
And if you are interested, our language of choice is Mandarin Chinese for Elementary immersion program. However, I would like for her to pick up another language of her choice (Russian, Spanish,Farsi etc) starting in middle school/Jr High. Since Mandarin is our choice it is imperative to start as early as possible since it is a level 4 langauge and very different than romance languages.
As a mom I want the best education for my daughter and as an educator I know the cognitive benefits of learning a second language at an early age.
Okay, I said I would not pontificate, but did anyway..... but wanted to share an oppion as someone who does NOT equate this in any way with border crossings/illegals/etc., (again, I am very conservative)but as an opportunity for USA students to be competitive in a world market.
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