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The Debate Between Bilingual Education and English Immersion Programs Bilingual Education is defined as any school program that uses two languages In a more theoretical sense it is any educational program whose ultimate goal is for the participants to be fully versed in all facets of both languages ie able to listen speak read and write in both languagesThe definition of a coordinated developmental bilingual approach has emphasized the goal of being equally fluid in both languages Realistically this has not been the goal for most K-12 bilingual schools in the United States More commonly in the United States we are using the words bilingual program to describe a program that will provide literacy and content in the primary language while building English fluency to the point where all instruction will occur in English These programs are label transitional bilingual programs as their ultimate goal is to transition all students into an English only learning arena One of the down sides of these programs is that they are not maintenance developmentbilingual programs which are designed to preserve and develop students primary language while they acquire English as a second language All bilingual program models use the students home language in addition to English for instructionThese programs are most easily implemented in districts with a large number of students from the samelanguage background Students in bilingual programs are grouped according to their first language andteachers must be proficient in both English and the students home languageEarly-exit bilingual programs are designed to help children acquire the English skills required tosucceed in an English-only mainstream classroom These programs provide some initial instruction inthe students first language primarily for the introduction of reading but also for clarification Instructionin the first language is phased out rapidly with most students mainstreamed by the end of first orsecond grade The choice of an early-exit model may reflect community or parental preference or itmay be the only bilingual program option available in
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