Bilingual Education Facts
Newt Gingrich is seriously out of date where bilingual education is concerned ["Gingrich: Bilingual Classes Teach 'Ghetto' Language," news story, April 1]. He seems to believe, contrary to the evidence, that eliminating bilingual classes in favor of English immersion would help children who don't speak English to learn the language faster.
Most responsible educators agree that every non-English-speaking child in the United States needs to learn English. Research shows that modern bilingual education accelerates the learning of English, by using the child's home language as a springboard.
Children can pick up basic knowledge and literacy skills much faster in the language they already know.
Their knowledge and literacy then readily transfer into English. Research consistently shows that in most cases this is more efficient than immersion.
Bilingual education doesn't solve all problems, but it is a valuable tool.
Taking it out of teachers' hands would make it harder for many children to learn English. Mr. Gingrich is right to emphasize the importance of English for all Americans, but he would be a more effective advocate for this cause if he were to learn how language education actually works.