Effective Schooling for Language Minority Students.
Garcia, Eugene E.
National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education, Wheaton, MD. (BBB21974)
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The characteristics of effective schools appear to be widely agreed upon. These include: strong and actively involved administrative leadership; teachers who have high expectations of their students; emphasis on basic skills; an orderly and safe school climate; regular feedback on academic progress provided to students and parents; staff development; and parental support and involvement. These last two features are especially important to language minority students, who have special needs and problems. Limited-English-proficient (LEP) students need time to acquire the level of proficiency that will allow them to participate effectively in all-English classes. Current theory on educating language minorities holds that the best type of program is one which combines instruction: on school subjects in the LEP student's native language; on school subjects in English which is geared toward LEP students; and in formal English-as-a-second- language (ESL). Instruction should be conducted in conditions that minimize formal instruction on linguistic structures and simulate natural communication. English immersion programs should be made comprehensible. Social and cognitive factors and individual differences should be taken into account, and efforts should be made to minimize the cultural and linguistic segregation of second language learners. Several specific programs which have effectively served language minority populations are described. Two that are described in detail are the program used in several elementary schools in Phoenix, Arizona and the program used by the J. Calvin Lauderbach School in Chula Vista, California. These schools, when studied, showed a high degree of success in promoting the academic achievement of their linguistic minority students. The studies also showed a high degree of satisfaction among parents, teachers and school officials with the performance and organization of the school. Other studies of various other elementary schools revealed the following characteristics of classrooms where successful instruction in oral language development took place: students were primarily instructed in small groups and talk about academics was encouraged; teachers provided instructional initiation and elicited student responses at levels the students could easily comprehend; students were allowed to take control of the discourse once an elicitation occurred by inviting fellow student interaction. Studies have shown a direct relationship between literacy development and oral language development. Although language minority education is still developing, it seems clear that language minority students can be effectively served by schools. Forty-one references are cited. (IEW)