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Introduction to Bilingual Education

Question:

Analyze the Issue of Bilingual and Immersion Education in Australia.

Changes in the Bilingual education have important impact on the future of the education system. This report provides some of the major research related to purpose and effectiveness of the bilingual education. Before researching about the bilingual education, it is important understand the concept of bilingual education. Bilingual education includes the active practices of learning based on two languages used by the educational institutions of countries in the society where various languages exist. It may be the situation where two different languages exist. On the other hand it may be the situation that rather than the state language, other languages are present. In present time, bilingual programs is used in the colleges, schools and universities where they are paying attention on the study of the foreign language and international cultures. Along with this, bilingual programs are focused on creating the conditions for the students to adjust in the intercultural language environment. Now, bilingual education can be found in the pre-school institutions. There is vast contribution to the bilingual education system at an early stage. For instance, popular and famous project ‘LIGHT’ is actively supported by many countries i.e. France, Germany, Finland and Austria. It is perceived that bilingual education in the early stage is most effective for children as children are more open to the new and they do not have any kind of obstruction and typecast. For instance, there is one of the Australian school focusing on the bilingual education i.e. Huntingdale Primary school. In this education system, school is providing different curriculum to develop bilingual skills in the students (Pray & Jimenez, 2009).

Aim of this report is to build is to analyze the issue of bilingual and immersion education in Australia and find out the most possible solution to deal with this issue. It synthesizes and summarizes the appropriate empirical work on bilingual education in schools at early stages. This report evaluates the quality of these studies and focuses on the improvement if bilingual education in the schools. The scope of this research is to generate the understandings of how immersion childhood education contributes is helpful in bilingualism and early school success. For the research, recent relevant studies on the bilingual and immerse early childhood programs would be focused.

The term bilingualism is quite difficult and controversial to define. According to Baker (1993), bilingualism is a kind of child who is able to speak two languages smoothly. Some other researchers argued that bilingualism starts at that point where the speaker of one language is able to produce complete and meaningful speech in other languages. Further, bilingualism begins when someone starts to understand other languages without any barriers. In bilingualism, there is one more term i.e. infant or child bilingualism. According to the Saunders (1988), infant bilingual can be described as the immediate acquirement of two languages from birth. Child bilingualism is successive fluency in two languages i.e. child learns first language within the family and then learns second language in preschool or early school years. Those child who are bilingual before four years of age have more chances of being able to make the use of two languages in their daily lives. Along with this, they have awareness of language; they have high level of level of adeptness at divergent thinking, creative thinking and concept formation.  There should be bilingual education system in the Australian schools as in the country, majority of the Australian born households are not bilingual and immigrant households. So, for the development of children, there must be bilingual education system in the schools (Lin & García, 2016).

Purpose and Importance of Bilingual Education

Child bilingual is one who has successive fluency in two languages. Those types of children acquire first language within the family and then learn second language in the school years. If a child has not get exposure of another language from birth or within the family then he or she will not be classified as an infant bilingual as he or she is not learning those two languages by birth. In the Australia, there is the multicultural society and bilingual education is actively debated in the society. Bilingual education must b e provided in the first language to transfer natural literacy from first language to the second language. Park (2007) argued that foreign women who are working in the country must use the language in which they are most comfortable to raise their children. According to her, proficiency in the mother tongue is helpful in the development of children in terms of learning skills.

The world is changing at the continuous level and there is the need of highly developed skills for the students for becoming successful global citizen. There are various situations those are essential for the students to become successful. In the schools of Australia, teachers are teaching different ways of learning and thinking to the students. Those skills can be transferred in the daily life and everyday situations for lifelong learning. It is crucial to understand the role of bilingual education in the Australian society (Skerrett & Gunn, 2011).

At all the levels of education system i.e. advisors, educators, teachers, ministry, school management, boards of trustees, and classroom teachers, there must be an effective message of maximizing bilingual education for the children or infants who speak only one language. The use of various languages affects bilingual education and education result for bilingual people. It is considered by the researchers that combination of languages improves the skill base of a person.  Bilingual education includes teaching all important subjects in two different languages and the practice of teaching to children in the native language. There are many forms of bilingual education basically and the implementation of the program in the education system is very effective (Umansky & Reardon, 2015). Bilingual education has crucial role to provide the opportunities to the children to progress in their subjects such as science, mathematics, and social studies in their native language. Along with this, they learn second language in the separate classrooms. The objective of bilingual education is to make the student fluent in two different languages. Bilingual education plays an important role in the world as common language is crucial for good communication and understanding. Due to the multicultural societies and existence of various languages in these societies, bilingual education has great importance. The role of bilingual education will establish harmony and stillness among the people in the society (Mongeau, 2016).

Types and Implementation of Bilingual Education

In Australia, there are some schools having bilingual programs for children and students who are speaking community languages other than English. These programs are conducted from the support of the government. There is bilingual education for native students. For instance, in the Northern region, bilingual programs for the native students were started with the support of Federal government in the early 1970s. Further, in December 1998, government of Northern region announced to start 21 bilingual programs to teach English as the second language. Along with this, bilingual programs were continuing under the pretext of two-way education. After that, in 2005, The Minister of Education, Employment and Training announced for renewal bilingual education at 15 community education centers. The aim of renewal was to provide effective education from pre-school to every region. The bilingual education in Australia represents much more than the education programs.

Using two languages in households is not an easy job. It needs lots of discipline and patience from the parents. In Australia, there are around 5 million people uses the language other than English at home. The most possible languages spoken by people include Italian (1.6%), Arabic (1.3%), Mandarin (1.6%), Greek (1.2%), Vietnams (1.1%) and Cantonese (1.2%). If someone grew up in France in a bilingual family in which father is French-speaking and mother is English-speaking. Then there is the need to speak in their respective languages by the parents as a child wants to be fit in each culture and does not want to be different from others in the society (Department of Immigration and Border Protection, 2012). By using both the languages, child will get fluency in English as well as France language and will become bilingual. Raising a child with two languages needs continuous and sustained efforts by the parents. But there are some families that may not follow bilingual system in the households. Some might have geographical rules within the house. So, it is important to enhance the bilingual education in schools so that children can learn one language in home and another language in schools (Skutnabb-Kangas & McCarty, 2008).

For a child, the best time to learn a language is from birth to 8 years old. From 2 to 3 years old, a child knows that language by which he is expressed and exposed himself by tongue and most of the languages are introduced in the schools. In the bilingual programs, language is considered as the integrated into curriculum. In the schools, teachers teach something by the language. Being bilingual basically means speaking two languages without learning them. There are some models in the bilingual education to teach second languages to the students (Disbray, 2017).

Bilingual Education in Australia

Bilingual education has many advantages for the society. The attitude to the bilingual education should be treated delicately, professionally and carefully. There are many benefits of the bilingual education in schools for those who are not bilingual and immigrant households. Bilingual education allows the students to adjust in the multilingual world and different cultures. In the bilingual education, training provides the opportunity to the students to learn one of the languages of world without leaving the touch with the traditional language group. For instance, if any student is going to study in abroad, bilingual training will be very helpful for him to adjust in the new environment. Further, bilingual education is helpful in improving the area of teaching, thinking and art of analysis. Along with this, bilingual education is helpful for the person to deal with the language misunderstanding barriers and making the student adaptable of other languages, expanding vocabulary and developing the culture of speech (Johnson & Johnson, 2015).

Learning various languages contributes in developing memory, communication skills and making the student more tolerant, flexible, and relaxed to deal with the difficulties of the complex world. Australia is highly multicultural nation. According to data gathered by The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 28% of Australian people were born overseas so the young Australians are losing their interest in learning the foreign languages (Bonfiglio, 2016).

Bilingual education is helpful in providing an excellent basis of learning for children. It basically has benefits for numeracy and literacy development in the language along with improving the experience and understanding of the children in the world. Bilingual education should be available in all the schools in Australia. Bilingualism is effective in many ways that is described in figure.

Figure 1: Advantage of Bilingual education

(Source: Bonfiglio, 2016)

Although Bilingual education has various benefits for the young learners and children as it includes more creative thought process and mental flexibility. Numbers of students are taking language education in Australia but it is quite low. Australia is linguistically diverse nation having more than 250 languages spoken in the Australian homes. But there are some challenges in providing Bilingual education to the students. By addressing those problems and challenges, schools would be able to improve bilingual education in the course structured.

It is the common practice to assign the teachers for the bilingual educations in the schools. For this manner, there is the need of little preparation for using bilingual methodologies and methods. But it is observed that there is the lack of training among the bilingual teachers. American Institute of Research conducted the evaluation of bilingual education and reveled that there are almost one-half of the teachers had not received the bilingual training proper over a five-year span. Although there are some improvements in the in-service and pre-service training of the bilingual education but still there is the critical need of bilingual training to the teachers at some points (Li, 2006).

Challenges and Advantages of Bilingual Education

There is the continuous lack of administrative support and that can be measured by the resource allocation in the bilingual education for the various programs. Since last few years, the Texas System of school Finance has provided some additional funding to the schools in support of bilingual education. But the state law is not focusing on increasing the fund support for bilingual and ESL programs. In case of bilingual education, there is the requirement of laws and ‘bilingual funds’ in support of these programs. There is the need of hardship and bilingual funds to spend on the educational programs for the language minority students.

The concept of bilingual education is based on using native language for the permanent growth along with other second language for the students. But, due to the lack of large pool of the trained teachers, bilingual education is not much effective in schools. Rather than addressing high level of native language speakers and providing them entry in the teaching profession, school should focus on education al leadership having fluency on the two different languages. Teachers with different language are very crucial in the schools for the bilingual education. Sometimes, teachers are not able to develop the extensive fluency which is necessary to be present in the academic work. Teachers who expect from the students to acquire fluency in few weeks to handle academic work in that language are failed get similar proficiency themselves. Along with this, sometimes State Level agency use culturally-biased test for the entry of teachers into the teacher’s preparation programs for bilingual education. As the result, poor performance can be seen (Kim, 2015). Further, there is one more weak pint in the bilingual program as schools import teachers from the second language world and place them as the teacher in the bilingual education. This action is the cause of many problems in the education system i.e. many imported teachers do not have proper and adequate skills to present the bilingual curriculum and the pronunciation and vocabulary of the teacher might be different from the student’s language so students have to face many difficult situations during the education system. The recruitment of teachers in the bilingual education is tough task for the schools in the Australian society as well other parts of the world. Rather than importing the teachers from various places, use of the local teachers would be beneficial as they insist on ‘purity of language’ and believe that native language is the correct language to use in the classroom so that student would not be confused due to the variation of the languages. Further, maintenance and improvement of the native language is important but must be separate in terms of bilingual education. Countries are making second language as the optional and due to this fact; students are losing their fluency on the languages (Lucero, 2015).

Benefits of Bilingual Education

There is one of the most serious failure of Australian schools i.e. inability to differentiate the unique characteristics of the population and the lack of their mental capability. Poor performances of the minority, immigrant school population, disadvantages are the factors affecting the bilingual education in the Australian schools. There is the lack of language competency which can be seen commonly as the lack of mental competency. There is the requirement of civil rights to address the lack of language skills in the bilingual programs. Along with this, there is the issue that bilingual educations in the schools are seen as option al education programs for the low mental capability students in the society. so, unfortunately parents, teachers and the students themselves consider the bilingual education as the low level opportunity and convert it into low level of the performance.

There are various rules and regulations that affect the implementation of bilingual education in the schools. Such rules and policies are becoming handicap in the success of the implementation the bilingual programs. The restrictions are affecting the characteristics of the teachers along with the languages used by them. The restrictions are also impacting the relationship with the sources of funding and the role of professional staff and use of native languages and many others (Cárdenas, 2017).

To get success in the implementation of bilingual education, schools in the Australia society must address these problems. Society must expand the educational opportunities for the large segment of the school populations and students, especially for the language minority students and limited language proficient students. Importance of language leanings must be improved due to competing demands of the crowded prospectus. Some immersion programs such as language integrated learning programs and content related programs should be delivered as the second language that would b e helpful for the students to become bilingual along with learning more subjects. The national curriculum authority should support the language achievement by following the model of compulsory language funding and learning in the Australian schools. Language learning should be considered as the key part of 21st century skills. Speaking in more than one language provides high level of benefit to the students who want to grow in the increasingly connected world. If learning becomes essential, there would be great chance to raise the status of Australian schools and motivate more people to move into language teachings (Dabrowski, 2015).

Conclusion

From the above discussion, it is observed that bilingual education has great importance to raise the students in the growing world. Basically, bilingual programs are focused on creating the conditions for the students to adjust in the intercultural language environment. There are many forms of bilingual education basically and the implementation of the program in the education system is very effective. So, high level of authorities and management should focus on funding and improvement of the bilingual programs in schools.

References

Bonfiglio, C., (2016), The Benefits of a Bilingual Education, accessed on 31st August 2017 from https://bilingualkidspot.com/2016/07/21/bilingual-education-benefits/

Cárdenas, J. A., (2017), Current Problems in Bilingual Education: Part II, accessed on 31st August 2017 from https://www.idra.org/resource-center/current-problems-in-bilingual-education-part-ii/

Dabrowski, A., (2015), How to make Australia more bilingual, accessed on 31st August 2017 from https://theconversation.com/how-to-make-australia-more-bilingual-42609

Department of Immigration and Border Protection, (2012), Family migration to Australia, accessed on 31st August 2017 from https://www.border.gov.au/ReportsandPublications/Documents/research/family-migration-australia-august-2012.pdf

Disbray, S., (2017), Why more schools need to teach bilingual education to Indigenous children, accessed on 31st August 2017 from https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/2017/06/16/why-more-schools-need-teach-bilingual-education-indigenous-children

Johnson, D. C., & Johnson, E. J., (2015), Language policy and bilingual education in Arizona and Washington state: International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 18(1), 92-112

Kim, M., (2015), The Current Problems of Bilingual Education Programs for Multicultural Families by the Korean Government Departments: Advanced Science and Technology Letters, 103, pp.92-96

Li L., (2006), A survey on students’ language capacity and measures to be taken for bilingual education in higher education institute:  Liaoning Education Study, 12, 61-63

Lin, M. Y. A., & García, O., (2016), Translanguaging in Bilingual Education: Springer International Publishing

Lucero, A., (2015), Bilingual Research Journal: The Journal of the National Association for Bilingual Education: Bilingual research journal, 38(1), 107-123

Mongeau, L., (2016), Battle of bilingual education once again brewing in California, accessed on 31st August 2017 from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/battle-of-bilingual-education-once-again-brewing-in-california/

Pray, L. & Jimenez, R. (2009), Literacy and English language learners: What researchers and policy makers should know: Educational Researcher, 38(5), 380-81

Skerrett, M., & Gunn, A., (2011), Quality in Immersion-bilingual Early Years Education for Language Acquisition, accessed on 31st August 2017 from https://www.education.canterbury.ac.nz/research_labs/maori/Quality_in_immersion.pdf

Skutnabb-Kangas, T., & McCarty, T. L., (2008), Key concepts in bilingual education: Ideological, historical, epistemological, and empirical foundations: Encyclopedia of Language and Education, 5, pp. 3-17, New York, NY: Springer

Umansky, I. M., & Reardon, S. F., (2015), The Promise of Bilingual and Dual Immersion Education: CEPA Working Paper, accessed on 31st August 2017 from https://cepa.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/wp15-11v201510.pdf

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