Saturday, September 24, 2016

Bilingual educators need to do a better job of communicating with the public.

Sent to the Petaluma Argus Courier
Re: Poll: No on Prop. 58 for bilingual education, Sept. 22
Of the ten responses to an online Argus Courier poll, seven respondents said they do not support bilingual education, because of the importance of English.
One of the most consistent results in all of educational research is the finding that properly organized bilingual programs are more effective in helping children acquire English than all-English programs.  Only one respondent out of ten was aware of this.
Bilingual educators need to do a better job of communicating with the public.
Stephen Krashen
Prof. Emeritus
University of Southern California
original article: http://www.petaluma360.com/news/education/6110056-181/poll-no-on-prop-58

Monday, September 19, 2016

How bilingual education helps.

PUBLISHED in the Sacramento Bee, September 21, 2016
as  Bilingual education helps kids learn

San Juan Unified administrator Martha Quadros notes that sometimes parents don't understand how developing the home language helps children transition to English.  It helps in two ways:
When children get quality education in their first language, they learn more subject matter: This knowledge  helps make the English they hear more comprehensible, which results in more acquisition of English.
It is much faster to learn to read in a language the child understands. Once the child can read in the first language, this ability transfers rapidly to the second language.
Good bilingual programs teach subject matter and develop literacy in the first language in early stages. They start English as a second language classes immediately, and teach subject matter in English as soon as it can be made comprehensible.
And it works. Research has shown that students in quality bilingual programs outperform students with similar backgrounds on tests of English reading.
Stephen Krashen
Original article: New catalyst for bilingual education on November ballot. http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/education/article102632417.html

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Bilingual programs do not prevent the acquisition of English – they facilitate it. (Letter in LA Times, 9/10/16)

Published in the Los Angeles Times, Sept 10, 2016
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)
The most rigorous research design is to compare the progress of children in bilingual programs and children in all-English programs with similar backgrouds.
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

ORIGINAL VERSION Sent to the Los Angeles Times, Sept. 7, 2016

I strongly agree with the LA Times editorial: "Proposition 58 would bring back bilingual education in California. And that's a good thing." 

In fact, bilingual education is even more effective than the Times' sources indicate.  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.

In the most recent analysis, Professor Grace McField (Cal State San Marcos) and David McField (MiraCosta College) examined 89 studies comparing bilingual education and English immersion. They concluded that when the programs and research design are set up correctly, the superiority of bilingual education is considerably larger than previously reported.

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

Stephen Krashen

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Proposition 58 is in trouble: Letters in the LA Times, 9/10/16



 The Los Angeles Times published six letters in reaction to an editorial supporting Proposition 58.  The first is mine.  The rest are bizarre.  Below are the letters and my comments.

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


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

SK comment: Bishop says that teachers tell him that children acquire English rapidly without bilingual education.  We don't know how many teachers he has talked to, and Bishop is clearly not aware of this research cited in my letter. Wayne Bishop is a math professor at Cal State. Longtime critic of bilingual education and a traditionalist in math education.

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

SK comment: Walter says we should make sure parents learn English, and English should be spoken at home.  Obviously unaware of the research  showing that students who continue to use the native language at home do better in school than those who move exclusively to English, and have a more active social life.
Bhatnagar,  J. 1980.  Linguistic behavior and adjustment of immigrant children in French and English schools in Montreal. International Review of Applied Psychology 29: 141-158.
Dolson, D. 1985. The effects of Spanish home language use on the scholastic performance of Hispanic pupils. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 6, 135-155.


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

SK comment:  This letter says out that 58 will not empower parents, because many don't speak English well can't get translators at district meetings. (So lets get more translators!) Says 58 is premature but presents no arguments against it.

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

SK comment: This writer wants more emphasis on foreign languages for English-only children.  Assumes this is an either-or issue, and is irrelevant to the question of Prop. 58. 


Conclusion:

If letters 2 through 5 represent the public's reaction to Proposition 58, it will not pass.  Studies done in the 1990's show that the public agrees with the principles underlying bilingual education, but do not realize that bilingual education is based on these principles. (See Question 46 in Crawford, J. and Krashen, S. 2015. English Learners in American Classrooms. DiversityLearningK12.)
We need to get busy.

PS: I cannot respond to letters 2-5 in the LA Times. They only allow one letter every 60 days.








Friday, September 9, 2016

California's Multilingual Education Act (Proposition 58)



California's Multilingual Education Act:  What it would change and how it would improve our educational system.
Stephen Krashen
Language Magazine 15 (11): 25-26, 2016.
Available at languagemagazine.com

If the Multilingual Education Act passes in California, it will be much easier to set up bilingual education programs, programs that use the child's first language to accelerate the development of academic English. I will try to explain why and how these programs work, and briefly discuss what the research says.

Why bilingual education works

Bilingual education helps students develop academic English in two ways. The first is teaching subject matter using the students' first language. Studying subject matter in a language the student understands leads to more mastery of subject matter. This in turn means more comprehension when subject matter is presented in English and thus more English language acquisition.

The second way is by providing literacy development in the first language, a short cut to English literacy. It is much easier to learn to read in a language you understand, and once you can read, this ability transfers across languages, even when the writing systems are different. There is strong evidence that better reading in the first language is associated with better development of reading in English. Studies have confirmed this for speakers of Spanish, Japanese, Vienamese, and Chinese, as well as for other first and second languages.
Properly organized bilingual programs also provide exposure to comprehensible English from the very first day, and introduce subject matter teaching in English as soon as it can be made comprehensible.
How it is done
Programs typically begin with academic subjects taught in the first language, along with ESL classes.  When students have enough English competence, those subjects that are the easiest to understand with the help of context (math, science) are taught in relatively simple, slow English ("sheltered") while more abstract subjects  (social studies, language arts) remain in the primary language. 
After more English academic proficiency is developed, students study math and science in regular classes with native speakers of English, and subjects such as social studies are taught in comprehensible, sheltered English.
Finally all core subjects are done in the "mainstream" and students can continue to develop their first language in special heritage langage classes.
The sheltered classes help students acquire a significant amount of the specialized language of subject matter classes.  Both sheltered classes and classes taught in the first language provide subject matter knowledge, which helps students understand mainstream classes.
This "gradual exit" model is presented below. It is called a gradual exit program because students are not placed in the mainstream all at once, but gradually, as subjects become comprehensible.
The gradual exit model

mainstream
ESL/sheltered
first language
Beginning
art, music, PE
ESL
all core subjects
Intermediate
art, music, PE
ESL, math, science
social studies



language arts
Advanced
art, music, PE
ESL
language arts

math, science
social studies

Mainstream
All

heritage language
Mainstream = all students together

The research

After reviewing all available comparisons of bilingual education and English immersion, McField and McField (2014) concluded that when programs provided subject matter instruction and literacy development in the first language and comprehensible input in English, and when programs were evaluated correctly, students in bilingual programs did better on tests of English reading, and the effect was considerably larger than that reported in previous analyses. 

Free voluntary reading

A powerful way of increasing the power of bilingual education is to include free voluntary reading in both languages, allowing and encouraging students to select pleasure reading materials for themselves, with no “accountability” of any kind. Studies have repeatedly confirmed that free voluntary reading vastly improves reading comprehension, vocabulary, writing style, spelling, and grammatical competence in both first and second languages.
Sources
Crawford, J. and Krashen, S. 2015. English Learners in American Classrooms: 101 Questions, 101 Answers. Portland: DiversityLearningK12

McField, G. and McField, D. 2014. The consistent outcome of bilingual education programs: A meta-analysis of meta-analyses. In Grace McField (Ed.) 2014. The Miseducation of English Learners. Charlotte: Information Age Publishing. pp. 267-299.






Wednesday, September 7, 2016

I do not support H.R. 4481, The "Education for All Act."

Stephen Krashen    September, 2016

H.R. 4481, the "Education for All Act" has been introduced in the US House of Representatives. The description:  "To amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to provide assistance for developing countries to promote quality basic education and to establish the goal of all children in school and learning as an objective of the United States foreign assistance policy, and for other purposes."

Despite 4481's noble goals, I do not support it: 4481 appears to be supporting an approach for other countries that has not worked in the US.

The Premise

HR 4481 assumes education is the driving force behind economic growth, reduction of poverty and inequality.  There is another point of view, clearly expressed by Martin Luther King (1967): "We are likely to find that the problems of housing and education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished."

The causality is not "improve education and it will reduce poverty and improve the economy," but rather "reduce poverty, and this will result in improved educational achievement."

There is strong evidence that Dr. King was right. Research done with countries, states, and individuals consistently shows that high levels of poverty are associated with low school achievement. There are good reasons for this: Among other things, poverty means food deprivation, lack of health care and lack of access to books, all of which have devastating impacts on school performance.  The best teaching in the world will have little effect if students are hungry, ill, and have little or nothing to read. 

There is also consistent evidence that when children of poverty are provided with improved nutrition, health care, and access to books, school performance improves.

"Rigorous" monitoring and evaluation

4481 calls for "rigorous" monitoring and evaluation, not just in school subjects but also in "critical thinking and civic education."  This will cost billions in terms of test development, piloting, and research, especially in areas where evaluation has not been well investigated (critical thinking and civic education). The tests will be have to constantly revised, and the technological demands will be enormous, with expensive new technology added as computer science makes more "progress."  The US has followed this path with no significant improvement in achievement, a result that is no surprise to those who have read the research. The only winners have been the testing companies.

Rather than spend billions on testing, we should invest in protecting children from the effects of poverty.

For the amount of money HR 4481 is prepared to spend on evaluation, children all over the world can be significantly better fed, have better health care, and improved school libraries, which will improve school performance and improve the quality of life for millions.

Sources:

'… the problems of housing and education…:": King, ML,1967. Final Words of Advice. http://www.wealthandwant.com/docs/King_Where.htm.
...high levels of poverty are associated with low school achievement: White, K. 1982. The relationship between socioeconomic status and academic achievement. Psychological Bulletin 91(46), 461-81; Tienken, C.  2014. Poverty and test performance. Kappa Delta Pi Record 50: 106-108.
…poverty means: Berliner, D. 2009. Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. http:// epicpolicy.org/publication/poverty-and-potential; Krashen, S. 1997. Bridging inequity with books. Educational Leadership  55(4): 18-22.
... school performance improves: FRAC, 2014. Breakfast for Learning. Food Research and Action Center; Healthy Schools Campaign, 2014; Research Shows Full-time School Nurses Improve Student Health and Learning; Lance, K. 2004. The impact of school library media centers on academic achievement. In Carol Kuhlthau (Ed.), School Library Media Annual. 188-197. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. (For access to the many Lance studies done in individual states, as well as studies done by others at the state level, see http://www.davidvl.org/research.html); Krashen, S., Lee, S.Y. and McQuillan, J. 2012. Is the library important? Multivariate studies at the national and international level. Journal of Language and Literacy Education, 8(1): 26-36.)
.... no surprise ....:: Nichols, S., Glass, G., and Berliner, D. 2006. High-stakes testing and student achievement: Does accountability increase student learning? Education Policy Archives 14(1). http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v14n1/.

Bilingual education: A very good thing

Sent to the Los Angeles Times, Sept. 7, 2016

I strongly agree with the LA Times editorial: "Proposition 58 would bring back bilingual education in California. And that's a good thing." 

In fact, bilingual education is even more effective than the Times' sources indicate.  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.

In the most recent analysis, Professor Grace McField (Cal State San Marcos) and Professor David McField (MiraCosta College) examined 89 studies comparing bilingual education and English immersion. They concluded that when the programs and research design are set up correctly, the superiority of bilingual education is considerably larger than previously reported.

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

Stephen Krashen

Most recent analysis: McField, G. and McField, D. 2014.  "The consistent outcome of bilingual education programs: A meta-analysis of meta-analyses." In Grace McField (Ed.) The Miseducation of English Learners. Charlotte: Information Age Publishing. pp. 267-299.

original article: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-proposition-58-20160906-snap-story.html