bilingual education

bilingual education, the sanctioned use of more than one language in U.S. education. The Bilingual Education Act (1968), combined with a Supreme Court decision (1974) mandating help for students with limited English proficiency, requires instruction in the native languages of students. The National Association for Bilingual Education (founded 1975) is the main U.S. professional and advocacy organization for blingual education. Critics (including the national group English First), who maintain that some students never join mainstream classes, have attempted to make English the "official" language in several states and cities; state ballot initiatives approved in California (1998) and Arizona (2000) mostly eliminated bilingual education programs there. Bilingualism proponents note the importance of ethnic heritage and the preservation of language and culture, as well as the need to educate non-English-speaking students in all subjects, not just English.

See K. Hakuta, Mirror of Language: The Debate on Bilingualism (1986); J. Cummins and D. Corson, Bilingual Education (1997); and H. Kloss, The American Bilingual Tradition (1998).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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