Merits of Bilingual Education in the United States

The general term, bilingual education, refers to the practice of teaching regular school subjects in more than one language, making linkages between the native language (i.e. Spanish or Chinese) and the English language, which is predominant, but not yet official, in the United States. There are several ways of approaching the concept of bilingual education. These include a strictly transitional approach in which students are expected to integrate into a completely English-speaking classroom within a few years, a dual approach in which subjects are taught in more than one language with the goal being that English will be learned sooner without loss of subject knowledge and a developmental approach, in which students are taught in both languages for an extended period of time. While there are numerous arguments for continuing and expanding or perfecting bilingual education in America, there have also been as many arguments brought forward for discontinuing these services. Some of these arguments will be explored here.One argument against the concept of bilingual education can be found in the concept of a unified nation. It is argued that the United States can only be truly unified if it exists under a common language known by all residents as a means of facilitating communication. When bilingual education is offered, this argument stipulates, then individuals living within the United States who do not speak English have little to no incentive to learn English and therefore begin to reduce the national identity. Advocating bilingual education means also offering numerous government documents and services in dual languages as well, which is seen as a waste of money, time and effort all put towards reducing the cohesiveness and solidarity of the nation. This is the argument offered by Mauro E. Mujica, Chairman of U.S. English, Inc. (cited in U.S. English, 2005).