(June 20, 2007) Research shows that bilingual education, when well implemented, is the most effective way to teach English to speakers of other languages while also teaching core subjects like math, reading and social studies. Josie Danini Cortez, M.A., an IDRA senior education associate, outlines an IDRA study of 10 bilingual education programs across the country with high academic success of their students. Researching these programs, IDRA identified the common characteristics and criteria that are contributing to the success of students served by bilingual education programs. This research study, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, and the corresponding publication, Good Schools and Classrooms for Children Learning English, highlight some of the practices in schools that enable students to grow academically and socially in their native language as well as English. Josie is interviewed by Bradley Scott, Ph.D., director of the IDRA South Central Collaborative for Equity.
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01:34 Bradley asks listeners to complete an online survey about the IDRA Classnotes Podcast. By completing the survey, listeners will be entered into a drawing for an Amazon gift certificate.
02:20 Bradley introduces the show topic – “Good Schools for Children Learning English” and bilingual education – and welcomes guest Josie Danini Cortez, M.A., an IDRA senior education associate, to the podcast.
09:22 Josie says the goal of the study was not to prove that bilingual education works – “we know it works” – but to find out which models are working best for children in first- and second-language acquisition, based on student achievement, and to establish a set of clear guidelines for practitioners.
10:40 Josie explains how IDRA’s research over 30 years continues to prove that bilingual education is the best vehicle to teach English to non-native-speaking children.
10:50 Josie explains why children should “never have to reject themselves, or their language or their culture, or their beliefs, or their values in order to participate in our public education system.” Instead, Josie says that schools need to value and embrace a child’s first language and native culture.
14:00 Josie explains that the study includes five dimensions for student success in bilingual education programs:
Comparably high academic achievement and other student outcomes
Equitable access and inclusion
Equitable opportunity to learn
17:40 Josie mentions two successful models for bilingual education – the first at a reservation school in Utah, where a bilingual program sparked a renewed interest in the Navaho language and culture; the second at a school in Utah, where local businesses accommodated the schedules of employees who were parents and grandparents, to ensure they could regularly attend school meetings.
19:45 Josie notes that the successful bilingual programs were those that allowed teachers to feel “safe” to try new things, to innovate, to create and to speak their minds. A sense of structure and accountability was also important.
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