Good research paper topics are to discuss various aspects of bilingual education. Some say teaching children in their native language can help them grasp concepts more easily, while they learn English. Others advocate for English-only so children gain proficiency in English more quickly.
Other critics say all students, whether immigrant or not, should be multilingual so they can better compete in a global market. California Senator Ricardo Lara introduced a bill to bring bilingual education back to his state.
What is bilingual education?
Bilingual education in the United States is teaching non-English speaking children in their native language so they can understand the lessons, but at the same time, these children are taking English language classes. There are also some specialized schools that immerse English-language students in a foreign language, such as French, Spanish or Chinese, to expose them to foreign languages and cultures so that when they become adults and enter the workforce, they will be prepared for a global marketplace. The debate over the merits of bilingual education or total English education range on both sides.
In an Editorial in the journal Babel, February 2015, Anne-Marie Morgan commented: “Educationally, bilingualism is being argued as the way forward for ensuring all learners have access to multiple language and culture resources, can function in a multilingual and multicultural world, and, critically, recognise that this is the global norm rather than the exception.”
California’s bill reverses ban on bilingual education
An interesting topic for a term paper is to discuss the pros and cons of bilingual education; for example, California’s ban on bilingual education. In 1998, California passed a law requiring English-only classes in public schools. Latino legislators at the time favored the new law, saying it would reduce discrimination aimed at immigrant children and families. In 2014, Senate Bill SB 1174, proposed by State Senator Ricardo Lara, chairman of the Latino Legislative Caucus, would overturn that 1998 law, reintroducing bilingual education into public schools in the state. The public will vote on the bill in November 2016.
In “Lawmakers move to scrap English-only instruction” by Patrick McGreevy and Melanie Mason, posted August 26, 2014, in the Los Angeles Times, Lara remarked: “I think Californians’ attitudes have changed and they understand the need, now that we are in a global economy, to have a multilingual workforce…I think the time has come for us to revisit multilingualism, bilingualism and language immersion programs.”
On the other side of the debate, Rosalie P. Porter offers the commentary “Bill to end ban on bilingual education hurts immigrant kids,” posted in SFGate.com September 17, 2014. Porter admonished the pre-1998 conditions in which classrooms were segregated by language and ethnicity, praised the success of children who were immersed in English and excelled academically, and believes that English language fluency and literacy is the first priority. Porter said: “The skills of speaking, reading and writing in English open the door rapidly — in one to two years — to learning school subjects taught in English and being included fully in mainstream classrooms.”
All high school students should be bilingual
Another possible research paper topic would be to discuss the need for American high school students to be bilingual. Advocating for this is Stanford University humanities Professor Russell Berman who says that the United States is behind other countries in teaching foreign languages to its citizens. He says an English-only approach is xenophobic, and that students being bilingual are a matter of global competency. “To worry about globalization without supporting a big increase in language learning is laughable,” he said in “A second language for every high school student, Stanford’s Russell Berman says,” by Cynthia Haven, posted in Stanford Report May 6, 2011. Berman responded to school budget cuts by saying, “You can’t expect that we can eliminate language, eliminate the arts, dumb down history and English and have intelligent achievers come out of secondary schools.”
For more information, check out Questia’s library on Bilingual Education.
Do you think it’s important for students to be bilingual?