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The controversial debate over English immersion and bilingual education programs has effects in almost every school system Advocates of bilingual education believe that it is necessary for children to be instructed in their native tongue and gradually be introduced to English or else they may fall behind in school Supporters of English immersion say that bilingual education programs hinder the learning process of the English language thus retarding the learning potential of a child English immersion supports the sink or swim idea of immersing a limited English proficiency LEP child in an almost completely English-speaking environment English immersion supporters then rely on the idea that LEP children will swim after being thrown into such a situation and eventually catch up to the rest of their classmates Are bilingual education programs a hindrance to learning English If they are should programs where children are forced to learn English through almost complete immersion be used in place of bilingual education programs To answer these questions correctly a full understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of both programs is requiredIt is important to first understand the techniques and goals of the bilingual education program before deciding if the program is harmful to a students potential to learn English The creators of bilingual education strongly believe in the idea that teaching technical subjects such as math and science in English can be harmful to a childs development in that subject The goal of bilingual education is to teach children mathematical and scientific concepts in a childs native language while teaching him or her conversational English on the side Several noted scholars support this technique and feel that students learning the English language should be taught all academic subjects in their native language for no fewer than five and preferably seven years The Changing Face of Bilingual Education The knowledge and skills that are acquired after five to seven years of instruction in a students primary language will transfer to
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