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How best to do bilingual education

How best to do bilingual education
Two language teachers at Hogg Elementary in Dallas where school district recently began offering bilingual classes pairing native English speakers with native Spanish speakers. (Ben Torres / Associated Press)

To the editor: I strongly agree with your editorial. In fact, bilingual education is even more effective than the Times' sources indicate.

( "Return to bilingual education," Editorial, Sept. 7)

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The most rigorous research design is to compare the progress of children in bilingual programs and children in all-English programs with similar backgrounds.

In general, these studies have shown that children enrolled in bilingual programs do better than children in all-English programs on tests of English reading.

Bilingual programs do not prevent the acquisition of English – they facilitate it.

Stephen Krashen, Los Angeles

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To the editor: In my experience as an educator, teachers — even previous bilingual education teachers — who observed Prop. 227 from Day 1 of kindergarten were almost shocked to see how much students from Spanish-speaking communities understood when immersed in English, and became fluent far more quickly than those starting in Spanish and gradually "transitioning" to English.

Regrettably, there are too many people in education and politics who have a vested interest in keeping these kids "in their place" while espousing that they have their best interests at heart.

Prop. 227 failed to meet the students' needs only because too many schools failed to follow the law, and Prop. 58 would only legalize what is already under way.

Prop. 58 should fail and a serious expose of current practices is long overdue.

Wayne Bishop, Altadena

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To the editor:  Changing the law is just a smoke screen for the real problem: a lack of budget for training parents to speak English, because students lose the benefits of immersion learning when they do not speak English at home.

If you want to find great charter school, just pick one that funds adult education to learn English. If you want a great LAUSD school, find one where the principals support adult education, instead of lobbying the neighborhood to go back to the old system for their own personal benefit.

Harold Walter, Northridge

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To the editor: To be clear, parents are continuously fighting to have their voices heard in the education conversation, so I doubt that Prop. 58 would empower them overnight.

The new accountability system for schools seems to be unclear and confusing. Furthermore, the editorial goes on to state that immigrant parents and their school districts should be trusted to work this out together, but I believe often times immigrant parents can't get translators at district meetings.

No, I don't trust Prop. 58. Let's first work to improve our current education system, and encourage school districts to find ways to further dual language immersion programs that work.

Evelyn Macias, Reseda

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To the editor: There's another hugely important point: How vital it is for English-only children to learn at least a second language, if not more. There is no better way to learn about the culture and history of another group of humans than through the study of their language.

Luckily for me, back in the 1950s, I was sent to a private school. Beginning at age six, every one of us was immersed in German, every day of our lives; Spanish and French, frequently and later on, Greek and Latin. I became fluent and comfortable in the cultures and histories that were taught as a natural accompaniment to the language classes.

Kristene Wallis, Valley Village

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