Bilingual Education Programs Are a Trending Topic
Bilingual education is a trend gaining momentum in the U.S. Dual language immersion programs began in Florida in the 1960s and have continued to increase in popularity, with Spanish being the most popular and other languages like Chinese gaining ground.
Teaching via combined languages is important as multiple races and immigrants from different countries live in the United States. Equality among students with diverse upbringings is key. Bilingual education provides an opportunity for students to write and speak in their native language and feel pride for their cultural background. Dual language programs can be difficult at first for both the teacher and students. The educator’s teaching style and techniques are important to ease students into the material.
In New York City, there are 180 bilingual education programs that teach Chinese, French, Hebrew, Korean, Russian, Polish, among others. Nearly 9 percent of Utah’s public elementary students are learning via dual language programs, while 10 percent of Portland, Oregon students are enrolled in similar programs. North Carolina and Delaware are also focusing on bilingual education.
Due to the popularity of dual language education, however, there is a shortage of teachers. Many districts have a difficult time hiring qualified candidates and often have to search for teachers abroad. According to Fusion, officials regularly scout for skilled bilingual Spanish teachers in Puerto Rico and Mexico. Several states have even decreased their requirements for bilingual teachers in a bid to attract more teachers. Connecticut has lowered its teacher requirements and in Texas, bilingual teachers are offered pay bonuses.
It may take until this generation of K-12 students in immersion programs graduate before America has enough qualified teachers to teach it. In the meantime, the students who are in bilingual immersion programs will continue to benefit from the social, ethnic, and linguistic lessons intrinsic to the bilingual language setup.