A new study from the Center for Research and Reform in Education at John Hopkins University has concluded that “Spanish-speaking children learn to read English equally well regardless of whether they are taught primarily in English or in both English and their native language.”
In other words, bilingual instruction does no harm as it relates to the acquisition of English literacy skills; we can reintroduce the goal of bilingualism and Spanish literacy – without any negative consequences to English reading acquisition.
In still other words… if it does no harm… and thus there is no adverse impact on test scores… then the advantages of bilingual instruction now outweigh the disadvantages… according to the latest research on the topic!
The director of the report, Dr. Robert Slavin, noted that
“Here’s a study that gives more solid information than has existed before that quality of instruction is important. The idea that the language of instruction is going to be decisive just doesn’t come through. You can succeed in either language. You can fail in either language.”
Of course at El Milagro, we have stretched to squeeze every point we can from the California Standards Test. Our student mobility and the drive to stay out of Program Improvement forced us to abandon dual language instruction. But next year we are eliminating those external pressures by
• Dramatically increasing the number of multi-age classrooms on our campus
• Developing a rich, integrated curriculum for those multi-age classrooms
• Placing students in grade levels according to their performance level (and not according to their age)
• Promoting students only when they demonstrate mastery of their grade level standards
Not only does this allow us to satisfy all the AYP demands, it will allow us to reintroduce the arts, health and fitness, science and social study. We can teach children to think again. We can promote creativity and performance and problem solving and innovation. The multiple intelligences!
But it also suggests that it is time to resurrect our dual language program… and our dream of biliteracy for all children.
Joy. Authentic learning. Dos idiomas. El Milagro.