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Home arrow Economics arrow Bilingualism in Schools and Society: Language, Identity, and Policy


  • •—Speaking in tongues is an awardwinning documentary that provides an inside look at two-way immersion programs. This companion site features study guides and video extras for educators.
  • •—The Thornwood Public School Dual Language Showcase shows samples of bilingual books written by students in various languages.


  • 1. Visit the website and watch the video extras titled, “Integration and Immersion” and “Test Scores.” What concerns and fears do parents have about enrolling their children in two-way immersion programs? Why might some Mandarinspeaking families be resistant to Mandarin-English two-way programs? What are the concerns of English-speaking families?
  • 2. What factors contribute to making the strong forms of bilingual education successful? What do they all have in common that are lacking in the weak forms of bilingual education?
  • 3. Interview a teacher in a bilingual education program. What are his/her beliefs about teaching and learning? How does he/she make decisions about using each language? How does he/she assess student progress in each language? What instructional strategies does he/she use to promote students’ learning of language as well as academic content?
  • 4. Imagine that your class is participating in a local board of education hearing to consider a proposal to implement a two-way immersion program in the district. Assign specific roles to each student in the class (e.g., two or three bilingual educators and administrators who will present the proposal, several members of the board of education, superintendent, and various stakeholders such as parents, community members, students, teachers, principals, curriculum specialists, and business representatives who will provide testimonies, comments, and questions). Students should come to the session prepared to play their assigned roles and ask critical questions about the program’s potential benefits, feasibility, and drawbacks.
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