Re: Two-Way Bilingual Video

From: John Lindner (
Date: Tue Jul 27 1999 - 22:26:29 EDT

At 6:56 PM -0400 7/25/99, wrote:
>With all due respect, I believe that the so called ''bi-lingual education'' in
this country is one of the biggest frauds going on regarding education today.

This is insulting to literally thousands of people across the country who
are working with children learning English.

>When I first came to this country at the age of ten, thirty five years ago, I
spoke NOT one word of English.

Bully for you. I would venture to guess you spoke whatever your native
language is fairly well and perhaps a fairly good command of it in written
form. That can make all the difference in the world.

>My mother, an engineer,...

Having a well-educated parent makes it much more likely that schooling was
probably also valued in your household.

>...was busy at her job and from the first day I arrived I stayed by myself in a
small apartment we were renting. I had nothing to do all day but read a few
books (in spanish) and watch TV. which I happily did. I was fluent in english
within 3 month of my arrival and I learned to speak the language by simply
listening and watching T.V...

Again, great. What you experienced (transference from one established
language to another) is an effective way to learn another language -- but
it's dependent on a good basis in a first language.

>It is absolutely incredible that anyone would consider that children have
>to be ''taught'' a language when children are so natural with their ability to
do so on their own.

It is absolutely incredible that anyone would think that children will
somehow spontaneously or "naturally" make *academic* progress in a second
language (as opposed to just learning basic, survival communication skills)
without initial support in their first language. You probably had such
support in school in your native country for two or three [or more] years
before moving.

> If anything this so called ''education'' only serves to set them
>apart from other children and to make them feel more insecure regarding their
ability to integrate.

If poorly done, if a point is somehow made of making them seem "apart"
rather than just receiving additional support they need, any child, be
he/she in ELD, special education, GATE, or whatever may feel "apart".

>I think that the only people who need bi-lingual training are people over
certain age who may arrive here from forein countries and who may want to learn
a new language. Children can learn foreign languages within weeks, literally, I
have seen it happening.

Your anectodal experience, while valid for yourself, isn't necessarily
supported in a broader context.

Take care,


John Lindner
San Anselmo Elementary School

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