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Credit: Lillian Mongeau for EdSource

Second graders Jayden Lew and Giselle Ortega work on their Spanish grammar at Edison Elementary School in Glendale, where they are enrolled in a dual language immersion program.

After nearly two decades, bilingual education in California could stage a resurgence if the state Senate approves a bill in August that would put the issue on the ballot in November 2016.

Since the passage of Proposition 227 in 1998, schools have been banned from offering classes taught in a language other than English without express permission from parents, among other requirements. The initiative, which passed with 61 percent of the vote, overhauled a system where the default assignment for English learners was a class taught in their native language.

“We were outspent on advertising 24 to 1 and we still won one of the largest landslides in California political history,” said Ron Unz, the Silicon Valley businessman who sponsored the ballot initiative.

Bilingual education, as it was practiced in California prior to the passage of Prop. 227, provided instruction to non-English speakers in their primary language in some or all academic subjects. Bilingual students also took classes specifically aimed at teaching them English. The goal, as they progressed, was for more and more of each class to be taught in English.

Though many felt as Unz did about bilingual education, Prop.227 remains controversial among educators. Many point to studies showing that high-quality bilingual education can help English-learner students transition to English-language classes. But even many educators believe the old bilingual system was flawed. English learners make up nearly a quarter of California’s public schoolchildren and, under the old system, they could remain in Spanish or other language classes for years without becoming fluent in English. And quality varied immensely from classroom to classroom, said Elena Fajardo, the administrator of the Language Policy and Leadership Office at the California Department of Education.

“Based on my experience, the quality of the instructor, the quality of the instruction, the program design and the adherence to that design is really where the benefits lie,” Fajardo said.

“Based on my experience, the quality of the instructor, the quality of the instruction, the program design and the adherence to that design is really where the benefits lie,” said Elena Fajardo, the administrator of the Language Policy and Leadership Office at the California Department of Education.

The new bill, SB 1174, which is currently undergoing revisions, would not be a return to the old system, said Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, the bill’s author. English-language instruction or a quick transition of one or two years to English-language instruction would remain the default for English learners. The bill would remove barriers to offering instruction in a language other than English. Since it would undo some of the provisions of Prop. 227, it would need to be placed before voters.

The resulting changes to the education code would allow schools to more easily offer either traditional bilingual programs or dual language immersion programs, which are meant to create fluency in two languages regardless of the student’s home language. Children in dual language immersion classes learn the mechanics of English and a second language as well as learning content, like math and social studies, in both languages. The vast majority of such programs currently operating in California enroll an even mix of both English learners and native English speakers. Some programs in the U.S. use primarily the non-English language to start and slowly integrate English over time. Others use each language 50 percent of the time.

Schools would not be required to offer dual language immersion programs; it would just become easier for them to do so because there would be less paperwork and fewer regulations regarding teaching in a language other than English. Practically speaking, parent support will still be required to make the programs successful even though the complex parental waiver process now in place will be removed.

“This bill is about choice,” Lara said by email. “If a parent wants their child to only receive instruction in English they absolutely have that ability under this bill. If a parent wants their child to learn to read and write in English and Spanish, this bill gives them the ability to do so as well.”

Parents already have that choice in the Glendale Unified School District, where nine schools offer dual language immersion programs in which English learners and native English speakers learn in two languages. While similar programs exist in other districts, few have as many as Glendale Unified. Glendale’s decision to offer programs in seven languages – including Korean, Armenian and Italian – is based on the success of its first Spanish-English dual immersion program at Edison Elementary School, which has been running since 2003.

Wendy Rios, the leader of Edison’s dual language program, said they have found that most of the children enrolled in the program are performing at or above grade level by the end of elementary school. The school has also received the 2014 Seal of Excellence from the California Association of Bilingual Educators, one of two schools in California to receive that honor in 2013-14 for demonstrating strong academic achievement among enrolled students, especially English learners.

Rios said the new legislation, if approved by voters, wouldn’t affect her program much, except to lessen the paperwork needed to run it.

“I’m excited that other communities could have these opportunities” if SB 1174 passes and voters approve it, Rios said. “But being thoughtful and planned is critical. I’m always hesitant for programs to grow in masses. It works if people do the research, if they visit the programs (that work). I feel (new programs) need at least a year of planning.”

Only 9 percent of the state’s 1.4 million English-learner students received part of their instruction in their primary language in 2013-14, according to the California Department of Education. The state does not have data on the number of students who received instruction in their primary language prior to the passage of Prop. 227, though Fajardo said the number of bilingual programs in the state has been slashed since then.

At the same time, and despite the red tape, the number of programs like Glendale’s, which serve native English speakers as well as English learners, has ticked up over time, according to Fajardo. The California Department of Education lists 201 dual language programs, though Pam Slater, a spokeswoman for the department, said the list had not been updated since 2011.

Unz attributed the uptick to “upper middle-class Anglo families” trying to find an advantage for their children, potentially at the expense of English learners.

“(White parents) want immigrant children to serve as unpaid tutors to their children,” Unz said.

While a growing number of English-speaking families do view dual immersion programs as advantageous for their children, research shows that learning two languages simultaneously can have long-term benefits for English learners.

“I’m excited that other communities could have these opportunities” if SB 1174 passes and voters approve it, said Wendy Rios, the leader of a dual language program in Glendale. “But being thoughtful and planned is critical. I’m always hesitant for programs to grow in masses. It works if people do the research, if they visit the programs (that work). I feel (new programs) need at least a year of planning.”

A Stanford University study of a 60,000-student district in California, which is unnamed as part of an agreement between researchers and the district, looked at 12 years of English learner data. Researchers found that many students enrolled in English immersion classes, which focus on teaching English and offer no instruction in students’ primary language, were reclassified as fluent in English before finishing elementary school, said Ilana Umansky, now an education professor at the University of Oregon and co-author of the study. That jump start didn’t help them in middle school, though, when their peers who had been enrolled in bilingual or dual immersion classes began getting reclassified and performed better on tests that measure academic proficiency.

“It makes sense, when you think about it, that students in an English-only environment would make more rapid progress in English, but students given a firm foundation in their own language would be better able to apply that language towards learning English and towards academic (pursuits),” said Umansky, who conducted the study with Professor Sean Reardon while earning her Ph.D. at Stanford.

In the district she studied, Umansky said that the families from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and with less proficiency in English as kindergartners were more likely to choose bilingual or dual immersion programs for their children. Families who chose English immersion programs were often better off financially and knew more English when they started school. Nevertheless, students enrolled in programs that included instruction in their primary language throughout elementary school and often into middle school were able to demonstrate a more sophisticated command of English and stronger performances on tests measuring academic proficiency by the end of high school, Umansky said.

Though her study did not examine the reasons for the better long-term outcomes for students in bilingual programs, Umansky said other research suggests that students acquire transferable language skills and a better understanding of subjects like math and history by studying in their native language first. For example, a Spanish-speaking 6th grade student who already understands that every sentence needs a subject and a verb can transfer that knowledge to learning English. And an 8th grader who first learned about the Civil War in Spanish during elementary school would have some basis for understanding the conflict between North and South even if the subject was now being taught in English.

Lara said he agrees that the acquisition of English is critical for all California students. But the world has changed, he said, and a strong command of just one language may no longer be enough.

“Nearly every other country in the world has managed to cultivate a multilingual society and reaps the cognitive and economic benefits of doing so,” Lara said. “It’s time for California to catch up with the rest of the world and promote multilingualism.”


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  1. Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

    Our school system is funded and operated in such a manner that students have to be packaged into a limited number of classes. Which means some parents get what they want and some don't. That's why this bill is needed. Otherwise administrators could not provide bilingual education without the written consent of all parents. And that would take initiative and leadership by community members. So let's see through the false rhetoric … Read More

    Our school system is funded and operated in such a manner that students have to be packaged into a limited number of classes. Which means some parents get what they want and some don’t. That’s why this bill is needed. Otherwise administrators could not provide bilingual education without the written consent of all parents. And that would take initiative and leadership by community members. So let’s see through the false rhetoric by Senator Lara that this bill is about parent choice this is about administrator choice. Even with LCFF schools cannot provide parent choice.

    Replies

    • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

      The term "school choice" first came into vogue shortly after the Brown v. Board decision and was used by segregationists to justify schools separated by race. It has come back into vogue in the last few years as some libertarian mantra. The US also now has schools, with CA having some of the most extreme, that are as much if not more segregated then they were at the time of brown. Charters schools, the … Read More

      The term “school choice” first came into vogue shortly after the Brown v. Board decision and was used by segregationists to justify schools separated by race. It has come back into vogue in the last few years as some libertarian mantra. The US also now has schools, with CA having some of the most extreme, that are as much if not more segregated then they were at the time of brown. Charters schools, the frequent euphemism for “choice,” contribute to the segregation problem.

      • Floyd Thursby 1941 2 years ago2 years ago

        Gary, I agree and disagree. Charter schools are for the most part more Latino and African American than others, and do very well by these constituencies. In fact they are some of the only schools which work for them and by law have to be open to all. However, I agree that private schools and white flight are largely due to a believe of many whites that white people should try to … Read More

        Gary, I agree and disagree. Charter schools are for the most part more Latino and African American than others, and do very well by these constituencies. In fact they are some of the only schools which work for them and by law have to be open to all. However, I agree that private schools and white flight are largely due to a believe of many whites that white people should try to get their kids into mostly white schools and rich people should try to get their kids into mostly rich schools, that essentially we should have a caste system and children should be segregated by race and parental income. They don’t say this, they say I want a choice because my kid has an issue with something, but people never complain that poor black kids with dope fiend single mothers should get to go to a rich private school, it is funny it is a claim of victimhood used to justify private segregated schools used by the most privileged. San Francisco has more segregated schools than Texas or Mississippi. Many whites openly boast of and believe in private schools yet proclaim they are liberal and progressive. Many in the Marina and other SF neighborhoods look at schools which are 15% white and decide the only thing to do is move, and you hear it’s due to being too poor to afford a house but it happens more with more well off whites than less well off black and Latino kids, again a contradiction. Segregation is also a huge problem in the suburbs. We have schools in Belmont and Burlingame nearly all white and Asian near mostly Latino schools in Redwood City, San Mateo, and San Bruno. LaMOrinda is near Concord. We have a school in Pacific Heights with almost no white kids, whose parents decide it’s a bad school but bad is clearly a codeword for black as many blacks from the Fillmore attend, named William Cobb, just blocks from nearly all-white Hamlin, private and only open to those with lots of extra cash. Segregation is a huge problem, and whites are for the most part guilty of racism, even very liberal whites who don’t back it up. However, there are many schools whites think are unworthy of consideration, and Asians thrive at them, so work ethic is a factor. Part of the problem at bad schools is the kids act out and aren’t studying enough. If parents made the kids read and study, they’d be more interested in class and act out less, and if fewer fathers left their kids, that too would make a difference. I agree the reason for much choice is historical racism, but don’t attack charters. Without charters we would never have had Vergara which is a key step forward towards prioritizing innocent young children.

        • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

          This supposed anti-racist rant of yours reads much more like a racist one. Throwing around these racist charges is irresponsible at best and contradicts your own claims. Your charge that certain folks seek to school their children with others of like skin color and socio economic status can apply to rich and poor alike. Believe it or not, not everyone who participates in school choice does so out of racist intent. You are not going … Read More

          This supposed anti-racist rant of yours reads much more like a racist one. Throwing around these racist charges is irresponsible at best and contradicts your own claims. Your charge that certain folks seek to school their children with others of like skin color and socio economic status can apply to rich and poor alike. Believe it or not, not everyone who participates in school choice does so out of racist intent.

          You are not going to get readers to respond to this rant of yours and I wouldn’t normally bother to respond myself, but you have made these charges before and continue to do so on a regular basis. The reason why people aren’t responding to you is not because they have no argument to make. It’s because there’s really no need to make one.

          • Floyd Thursby 1941 2 years ago2 years ago

            It is a fact that private schools and white flight were virtually unheard of before Brown v. Topeka. Private schools are much more popular in areas where public means diverse than where public schools mean all rich kids. It's as much class as race. Teachers are similar in different schools, and when a school gets a rep as a "bad school" that's generally a codeword. It's become so accepted that being … Read More

            It is a fact that private schools and white flight were virtually unheard of before Brown v. Topeka. Private schools are much more popular in areas where public means diverse than where public schools mean all rich kids. It’s as much class as race. Teachers are similar in different schools, and when a school gets a rep as a “bad school” that’s generally a codeword. It’s become so accepted that being progressive doesn’t require one to help public schools that even Matt Damon, who supports LIFO, hates testing, complains about racism, and is extremely far left on education sends his kids to private schools, even Rahm Emmanuel who constantly accuses others of racism. It’s an accepted part of the social fabric, but Gary had a point.

            We have never addressed segregation as a community or as a nation. We passed laws and everyone who could tried to find ways to evade those laws. We haven’t had anyone really stand up for diverse public schools since Jimmy Carter. We treat those laws as obstacles to be evaded, not a beautiful principal to embrace and work towards.

            You can say it’s racist and say my kids’ school isn’t diverse enough all you want. It doesn’t change the facts that are undisputed. People can speak on this even if they aren’t in the most diverse school, and my kids are minorities themselves and diversify the school and go to schools 28-41% free and reduced lunch and under 25% white, which is not true of Matt Damon or Rahm Emmanuel or most people in Pacific Heights who profess far left views (one of the most liberal neighborhoods in America, “liberal” that is).

            Gary does have a point.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            "It is a fact that private schools and white flight were virtually unheard of before Brown v. Topeka" False. Private schools have been around before public schools up until this day. Many of the SF private schools are well over 100 years old and some of the schools in the East Coast over 200 years. SFUSD never practiced de jure segregation and public school enrollment has remained steady around 33% of public school age children for … Read More

            “It is a fact that private schools and white flight were virtually unheard of before Brown v. Topeka”

            False. Private schools have been around before public schools up until this day. Many of the SF private schools are well over 100 years old and some of the schools in the East Coast over 200 years. SFUSD never practiced de jure segregation and public school enrollment has remained steady around 33% of public school age children for several decades. However, the cost of living has skyrocketed in The City. You can try to say that all the families leaving are the result of white flight, but many of those families are black.

            Is that the reason you left out your usual ending refrain “these are the facts and they are undisputed”?

  2. Hamish Chalmers 2 years ago2 years ago

    Fascinating reading the comments under this article. It seems very clear that the debate over bilingual ed (at least from the more vociferous opponents herein) is not particularly concerned with the psychoedcuational justification for such an approach but much more about sociopolitical implications. Salvin and Cheung (2005) did a robust systematic best evidence review , using meta-analyses, of bilingual reading programmes which, at worst, detected no difference in reading proficiency between children enrolled in … Read More

    Fascinating reading the comments under this article. It seems very clear that the debate over bilingual ed (at least from the more vociferous opponents herein) is not particularly concerned with the psychoedcuational justification for such an approach but much more about sociopolitical implications.

    Salvin and Cheung (2005) did a robust systematic best evidence review , using meta-analyses, of bilingual reading programmes which, at worst, detected no difference in reading proficiency between children enrolled in bilingual programmes and those in other types of programme, and more commonly detected a slight advantage in English proficiency for those children in bilingual programmes. These findings are supported by similar meta-analyses (beyond just reading proficiency) summarised <a href="http://www.elladvocates.org/documents/RCN/Krashen-McField.pdf"here. So, if the evidence suggests bilingual ed confers a benefit to English proficiency AND to academic facility in children’s L1s, why on earth would anyone want to deny those learners the that opportunity?

    As a Brit (where bilingual education has never been considered appropriate for our sizeable minority of ELLs by government, despite evidence for its effects) it is interesting to observe the same emotional fear of pluralisation (“turning the sate over to the Mexicans, law by law, piece by piece”) that we hear on this side of the Atlantic to argue against giving those children just that opportunity.

    If you are philosophically opposed to pluralism in society, that’s your right. If you feel that (to borrow a phrase from this neck of the woods) “You’re in England you should speak nothing but English”, go ahead and try to rationalise that position. To do so though you will have to look elsewhere than the empirical research on the effects of bilingual education programmes. The best of that evidence does not support such a position.

    Replies

    • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

      Hammish:

      Welcome to the discussion! It’s always good to get another perspective. I know that England tends to go through many of the same pedagogic traumas and ideological debates that we do in the US. I will be interested in reading more of your commentary.

    • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

      Implementing bilingual education programs across the state in the face of vast shortages of appropriately credentialed staff, well, it’s academic, my dear Watson.

  3. Replies

    • Floyd Thursby 1941 2 years ago2 years ago

      Reducing childhood poverty helps but only if the child actually studies and the parents actually work on improving things. You accuse us of ignoring things but tell me this, why do you ignore Asian achievement while in poverty and not try to find ways to convince all families to do things Asians do? Why do you ignore studies which link hours studied per week with SAT scores, college graduation rates,entrance to top colleges … Read More

      Reducing childhood poverty helps but only if the child actually studies and the parents actually work on improving things. You accuse us of ignoring things but tell me this, why do you ignore Asian achievement while in poverty and not try to find ways to convince all families to do things Asians do? Why do you ignore studies which link hours studied per week with SAT scores, college graduation rates,entrance to top colleges and future income? Why do you ignore studies which show divorce and single parenthood, once praised and pushed by the far left, hurt kids in test scores and income?

      • Floyd Thursby 1941 2 years ago2 years ago

        This here is the gist of it, if parents work harder and kids work harder, kids do better. Below is all Hispanic students have to do to do as well as Asians, and whites as well, who do far worse than Asians and do much worse in poverty. http://www.psmag.com/navigation/books-and-culture/asian-american-parenting-and-academic-success-26053/ Parents shouldn’t start training children too young — the seedling has to sprout — but early habits will dominate, goes the common conviction. That’s why 60 percent … Read More

        This here is the gist of it, if parents work harder and kids work harder, kids do better. Below is all Hispanic students have to do to do as well as Asians, and whites as well, who do far worse than Asians and do much worse in poverty.

        http://www.psmag.com/navigation/books-and-culture/asian-american-parenting-and-academic-success-26053/

        Parents shouldn’t start training children too young — the seedling has to sprout — but early habits will dominate, goes the common conviction. That’s why 60 percent of Asian-American parents in one study by Michigan State University education professor Barbara Schneider taught their preschoolers basic reading, writing and math, hoping also to imbue them with perseverance, concentration and focus.

        In contrast, 16 percent of whites surveyed taught their preschoolers those basic skills. Many explained that they didn’t want to push academics on their preschoolers because they worried about “baby burnout” — squelching their toddlers’ motivation with too-early teaching.

        American students of most ethnicities, other researchers have found, tend to believe the reverse, often arguing that gifted people are so smart they don’t have to work as hard as others do. Americans also often think that we’re born smart or not — with a fixed intelligence — while Asians more often believe that studying makes a person smarter. As one high-achieving Chinese-American student told Li, “Everybody in my family, all my aunts and uncles and cousins, they’re all like, ‘If you try harder, you’d be like a really smart person.’”

        One study, for example, found that Asian-American 11th-graders studied six hours more per week than their white peers. Another found that in 2007, more than two-thirds of Asian-American high school students did homework five or more days a week, while only about 40 percent of white and Hispanic kids, and less than a third of African-American students, did so. According to other research, Asian-American kids devote less time to chores, part-time jobs and dating than other kids.

    • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

      While invoking the lessons of history to support your position to provide maximum services for all regardless of legal status you conveniently forget that 1. the most powerful and vocal nativist of all were American labor unions and that 2. these social controversies revolved around legal, not illegal immigration. Now you want to portray legal and illegal immigration as one and the same because no human beings are illegal? Please. If only that were true … Read More

      While invoking the lessons of history to support your position to provide maximum services for all regardless of legal status you conveniently forget that 1. the most powerful and vocal nativist of all were American labor unions and that 2. these social controversies revolved around legal, not illegal immigration. Now you want to portray legal and illegal immigration as one and the same because no human beings are illegal? Please. If only that were true just about everywhere else in the world we might not have an immigration problem. So when are you going to start calling to remove any and all barriers for all those that seek to immigrate to the US legally? Or are you just interested in amnesty for some ethnicities and not others?

  4. Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

    Ms. Mongeau, I am so sorry that you are being painted with the "you are helping in turning the state over to the mexicans law by law, piece by piece" brush. Tactics like those are what got 227 passed and that is what will continue to happen until these nativist disappear from the Earth. No amount of "fair and balanced" will satisfy them so don't waste your time trying. On the other hand, that is a … Read More

    Ms. Mongeau, I am so sorry that you are being painted with the “you are helping in turning the state over to the mexicans law by law, piece by piece” brush.

    Tactics like those are what got 227 passed and that is what will continue to happen until these nativist disappear from the Earth. No amount of “fair and balanced” will satisfy them so don’t waste your time trying.

    On the other hand, that is a priceless quote from Unz. It clearly shows that he is not for teaching English but for stamping out the speaking of any other language than English in the classroom. Too bad he didn’t say it when he was muddying the waters back then.

    Replies

    • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

      That Americans are ahistorical is well known, but it's deja vu all over again. Around 1915 fully 1/3 of American public schools were bilingual. Half the day was spent working in English and half the day working in the native language of the students' parents. That language was German. The American people were leery of getting entangled in the war ravaging Europe that came to be known as WWI. Finally, the sinking of a ship … Read More

      That Americans are ahistorical is well known, but it’s deja vu all over again. Around 1915 fully 1/3 of American public schools were bilingual. Half the day was spent working in English and half the day working in the native language of the students’ parents. That language was German. The American people were leery of getting entangled in the war ravaging Europe that came to be known as WWI. Finally, the sinking of a ship with Americans, as well as war materials for US allies, triggered US entrance into the war. Public enthusiasm, particularly because of the draft, was not great so a propaganda campaign was undertaken. All things German were verboten. Frankfurters became “hot dogs” and sauerkraut became “liberty cabbage. (If you’re thinking of the ridiculousness of “liberty fries” rather then French Fries during the Iraq debacle, you are right on target.) Real American patriots were even known to kick dachshunds when encountered in the street. There are no historical accounts of the real patriots kicking German Shepherds. (??)

      Jingoism and nativism are always with us as are other weaknesses in the body politic. But when those tendencies are backed by billionaires, then they are really dangerous.

      • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

        Indeed, German, spoken throughout the Mid West, was forbidden during WWI. The language of Kinder, Küche and Kirche was prosecuted because Wilson finally took the US farm boys to Flanders Fields . Prop 227 has its roots in Nebraska's Siman Act , passed on April 9, 1919, which stated that "No person, individually or as a teacher, shall, in any private, denominational, parochial or public school, teach any subject to any person in any language … Read More

        Indeed, German, spoken throughout the Mid West, was forbidden during WWI. The language of Kinder, Küche and Kirche was prosecuted because Wilson finally took the US farm boys to Flanders Fields .

        Prop 227 has its roots in Nebraska’s Siman Act , passed on April 9, 1919, which stated that “No person, individually or as a teacher, shall, in any private, denominational, parochial or public school, teach any subject to any person in any language other than the English language.”

        Yes, the Siman Act was declared unconstitutional in 1923, and the decision on Meyer v Nebraska contained these words: “Perhaps it would be highly advantageous if all had ready understanding of our ordinary speech, but this cannot be coerced by methods which conflict with the Constitution​—​a desirable end cannot be promoted by prohibited means.”

        But by then it was too late: German had been more or less erased from public use.

        BTW, the same thing happened in Pennsylvania, but no one, other than academics, notes that German was the second language in that region. I guess Ben Franklin won in the end…

        Prop 227 was passed because of the English Only push. Yet, they lost in the long run because use of Spanish is higher in California now than it was then. We don’t have Pete Wilson’s legacy to help the nativists anymore.

        And for that, I am thankful.

        • Doug Lasken 2 years ago2 years ago

          Krashen, the man who claimed that French speaking children were capable of early English immersion while Hispanic children were not- the very essence of racism- is done, and let’s hope he stays that way.

          • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

            To the contrary, Krashen is alive and well and his language acquisition theories are accepted parts of CA's formal curriculum for training teachers in Specially Developed Academic Instruction in English (SDAIE), aka, sheltered English. I should say was, as that training is now integral to teacher credential programs and I'm not sure to what extent that curriculum is aligned with the previous SDAIE. Krashen remains an active national spokesman against the abuses of standardized testing. … Read More

            To the contrary, Krashen is alive and well and his language acquisition theories are accepted parts of CA’s formal curriculum for training teachers in Specially Developed Academic Instruction in English (SDAIE), aka, sheltered English. I should say was, as that training is now integral to teacher credential programs and I’m not sure to what extent that curriculum is aligned with the previous SDAIE. Krashen remains an active national spokesman against the abuses of standardized testing. This puts Krashen in league with ETS, RAND, the National Research Council, and lately the American Statistical Assoc.

            It is interesting that Paul Krugman writes a lot about “zombie” economic ideas like austerity, obsessions with inflation, and harsh warnings about government debt. Austerity has extended the recession, inflation never comes about in meaningful ways, and government debt is another way to say economic expansion and infrastructure improvement. The same thing seems to happen in education. After over decade of test driven “accountability,” learning as measured on the NAEP has flatlined, phonics driven reading instruction has failed (the phonics wars have recurred for over a century), and trying to micro-manage classroom instruction via laundry lists of “standards” has been a bust. Education critics fulminate over low international test scores, and Condi Rice, NY’s (now Rupert Murdoch’s) Klein, and company have called it a “national security threat.” But the same critics look at the countries that get the best scores and recoil in horror from doing the things they do to get the scores: e.g., reduce childhood poverty; create a seamless social service system; give schools and teachers autonomy over instruction; and, reduce testing to an absolute minimum. The we have Arne Duncan working to force states (by waving scarce dollars at them) into evaluating teachers based on student test scores. Not only don’t the international high performing countries do this, but every legitimate national research group also condemns it. We have America’s foremost education expert with no educational background or experience, Bill Gates, (also waving lots of dollars) comparing the nation’s teachers to “wall sockets” that need “standardization (this is not a joke or exaggeration). Meanwhile, yet another billionaire tech savant with no educational background or experience is busy with endlessly deep pockets using high priced lawyers and public relations firms to undermine this state’s teaching force. As if, in this nation’s state with the lowest spending per child and highest needs students, the teachers need more undermining.

            Maybe it is the “zombie apocalypse.”

        • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

          Thanks, Manuel. That is some good information that completes the narrative on nativist attacks on bilingualism. Pick something that works and wait for the attacks to begin.

  5. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    By the way Lillian, great and well researched article. We can all just brace ourselves for the continued educational mischief committed by Unz, Welch, Hastings, Gates, et al, and other techy savants. Luckily, kids are resilient. Teachers and the system, less so.

  6. Hilary West 2 years ago2 years ago

    WOW -- Lillian you sure do seem like a supporter - i agree with Doug. In the entire state of CA you were unable to find a teacher, a professor with a study or some type of educator who is opposed to bilingual education? I find that astounding. Maybe a bit more research would inform your writing. It is obvious to anyone following Lara's other legislation, that he is intent on making CA … Read More

    WOW — Lillian you sure do seem like a supporter – i agree with Doug. In the entire state of CA you were unable to find a teacher, a professor with a study or some type of educator who is opposed to bilingual education? I find that astounding. Maybe a bit more research would inform your writing.
    It is obvious to anyone following Lara’s other legislation, that he is intent on making CA a mexican state. It used to be that immigrants came here and worked hard to assimilate into the existing culture. Now the Latino Caucus wants to make sure illegals and mexicans in general can live here without speaking the language, following the law and earning their space in the CA. And as taxpayers we now give them scholarships, financial aid and drivers licenses. I hope this goes to the ballot – it will be defeated — but unfortunately that won’t stop Lara and his buddies from turning the state over to the mexicans law by law, piece by piece.

    Replies

    • JB 2 years ago2 years ago

      Thank you. Its about power and politics and this ‘reporter’ shows no attempt to conceal her bias.

  7. Tressy Capps 2 years ago2 years ago

    With the unfettered influx of illegal aliens from Central America look for many changes in our public schools like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KAL8tny6oo
    Everything will change with Obama’s open borders policy. Immigration anarchy is underway!

    Replies

    • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

      Oh, please…

      • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

        It is a sad commentary on the US that so many poor countries in the world generously take in thousands of refugees from across their borders. We have a humanitarian crisis on our border and some say "humani..what?" Any solution to problems that doesn't involve more suffering is just too much to wrap the mind around. And we are the wealthiest nation on Earth and CA is the wealthiest state in the nation. Well, we … Read More

        It is a sad commentary on the US that so many poor countries in the world generously take in thousands of refugees from across their borders. We have a humanitarian crisis on our border and some say “humani..what?” Any solution to problems that doesn’t involve more suffering is just too much to wrap the mind around. And we are the wealthiest nation on Earth and CA is the wealthiest state in the nation. Well, we neglect our own kids so routinely it’s not surprising there wold be advocates to neglect other’s as well.

        And the law, BTW, that allows those children a due process hearing was signed by GW Bush, not Obama.

        • Doug Lasken 2 years ago2 years ago

          Thank you Mr. Ravani for accepting that Lausd mismanaged bilingual education by using the term as a cover for native language instruction that entirely excluded academic English, but the practice was by no means particular to L.A. Both state and federal mandates dictated that the native language should be taught exclusively until the student was proficient in it, delaying English instruction for years (see the statements of Senator Herman Badillo, who originally supported bilingual … Read More

          Thank you Mr. Ravani for accepting that Lausd mismanaged bilingual education by using the term as a cover for native language instruction that entirely excluded academic English, but the practice was by no means particular to L.A. Both state and federal mandates dictated that the native language should be taught exclusively until the student was proficient in it, delaying English instruction for years (see the statements of Senator Herman Badillo, who originally supported bilingual education until he saw how the Dept. Of Ed. was implementing it). In return for Mr. Ravani’s candor, I will concede that we don’t really know what SB 1174 will entail. It is necessary, then, that those formulating it include people who know the legitamite purposes of 227, and understand the need not to return to past abuses.

          • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

            You are making up stories again. It was not "teaching their native language." It was teaching literacy so that students could then be transitioned into English at a faster clip. Where is Krashen when you need him? Of course, you could care less about Krashen's work back then so you won't now. But the peanut gallery needs to know how the propaganda machine worked back then. It was really an "English Only" push, and it had … Read More

            You are making up stories again. It was not “teaching their native language.” It was teaching literacy so that students could then be transitioned into English at a faster clip.

            Where is Krashen when you need him?

            Of course, you could care less about Krashen’s work back then so you won’t now. But the peanut gallery needs to know how the propaganda machine worked back then. It was really an “English Only” push, and it had nothing to do with education.

            And I think Gary said “might.”

          • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

            Well, I am not "acknowledging" it. I don't know enough about LAUSD policy at the granular level to say one way or another. I have had enough contact with teachers who work in LAUSD to say that over time management has obsessively micro-managed and not with positive outcomes. This particularly true of current management, at least at the district level, who seem exceedingly overburdened with Broad Academy acolytes who proceed totally unaware of their … Read More

            Well, I am not “acknowledging” it. I don’t know enough about LAUSD policy at the granular level to say one way or another. I have had enough contact with teachers who work in LAUSD to say that over time management has obsessively micro-managed and not with positive outcomes. This particularly true of current management, at least at the district level, who seem exceedingly overburdened with Broad Academy acolytes who proceed totally unaware of their hubris and lack of knowledge of all things educational. The latter being a significant deficit in educational “leaders.”

  8. Doug Lasken 2 years ago2 years ago

    Histories of bilingual ed.from proponents of SB 1174, including Mongeau, always fail to mention that English instruction was strictly forbidden for English learners before 227, depriving tens of thousands of immigrant children the right to learn English. This hidden agenda appears to lurk in the 1174 proposal for dual immersion to start at 90% Spanish. If you wanted to learn French, how much would you pay Berlitz to teach you English? … Read More

    Histories of bilingual ed.from proponents of SB 1174, including Mongeau, always fail to mention that English instruction was strictly forbidden for English learners before 227, depriving tens of thousands of immigrant children the right to learn English. This hidden agenda appears to lurk in the 1174 proposal for dual immersion to start at 90% Spanish. If you wanted to learn French, how much would you pay Berlitz to teach you English? You learn about a subject by studying it. Backers of 1174 are in for a big surprise when they discover that voters are no more susceptible now to the illogic of teaching Spanish and calling it teaching English than they were in 1997.

    Replies

    • Lillian Mongeau 2 years ago2 years ago

      Hi Doug,

      Let’s just be clear that I am not a proponent of 1174 or of any other particular measure. As a reporter, I’m just explaining what impact the bill would have if it passed.

      Allowing for schools to offer more dual language immersion courses would be one effect of 1174 passing. The bill would not make dual language immersion programs mandatory for any student, nor would it require schools to offer them.

      Thanks for reading,
      Lillian

    • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

      "always fail to mention that English instruction was strictly forbidden for English learners before 227, depriving tens of thousands of immigrant children the right to learn English" What? Don't you claim to have been a classroom teacher? In what country (or universe)? English instruction wasn't "forbidden" to ELLs before 227. The most relevant language in Lillian's article, referencing an actual language researcher about effete of bilingual instruction are these: "Nevertheless, students enrolled in programs that included instruction in … Read More

      “always fail to mention that English instruction was strictly forbidden for English learners before 227, depriving tens of thousands of immigrant children the right to learn English”

      What? Don’t you claim to have been a classroom teacher? In what country (or universe)? English instruction wasn’t “forbidden” to ELLs before 227.

      The most relevant language in Lillian’s article, referencing an actual language researcher about effete of bilingual instruction are these:

      “Nevertheless, students enrolled in programs that included instruction in their primary language throughout elementary school and often into middle school were able to demonstrate a more sophisticated command of English and stronger performances on tests measuring academic proficiency by the end of high school, Umansky said.

      Though her study did not examine the reasons for the better long-term outcomes for students in bilingual programs, Umansky said other research suggests that students acquire transferable language skills and a better understanding of subjects like math and history by studying in their native language first.”

      What part of “more sophisticated command of English” and “a better understanding of subjects like math and history by studying their native language first” are you not understanding?

      • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

        Gary, FYI, Doug was an LAUSD teacher. And he continues to use the big lie that "English was forbidden." Sigh. Some things never change... OTOH, the electorate in California has changed. Do you think that 187 would pass today? 227 was riding its coattails. In fact, it was fairly obvious that they wanted to impose an English-Only solution. They even got themselves an op-ed published in the LA Times where they called for abolishment of … Read More

        Gary, FYI, Doug was an LAUSD teacher.

        And he continues to use the big lie that “English was forbidden.”

        Sigh. Some things never change…

        OTOH, the electorate in California has changed. Do you think that 187 would pass today? 227 was riding its coattails.

        In fact, it was fairly obvious that they wanted to impose an English-Only solution. They even got themselves an op-ed published in the LA Times where they called for abolishment of Spanish radio. More than 15 years later, Spanish radio is as important in Los Angeles as English-based radio.

        These people might get a surprise if they try the same tactics they used back then. And even if they win, they’ll lose because they’ll just simply create another group of future voters with a grievance.

        • Doug Lasken 2 years ago2 years ago

          What utter rot. I was there and apparently you were not. The pre-227 LAUSD Bilingual Master Plan absolutely forbade academic English instruction for Limited English Proficient students (LEP's, the jargon of the time) All textbooks for LEP's had to be in Spanish, as did oral instruction. I and all teachers were forbidden (that is the correct word) to teach English phonics, grammar, or spelling to LEP's, as this was said to be counterproductive for … Read More

          What utter rot. I was there and apparently you were not. The pre-227 LAUSD Bilingual Master Plan absolutely forbade academic English instruction for Limited English Proficient students (LEP’s, the jargon of the time) All textbooks for LEP’s had to be in Spanish, as did oral instruction. I and all teachers were forbidden (that is the correct word) to teach English phonics, grammar, or spelling to LEP’s, as this was said to be counterproductive for Hispanic students. The absence of academic English typicalIy lasted well into middle-school and often into high school.I hope John Fensterwald looks this up himself so he can fact check what he publishes.

          • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

            Doug:

            You may be accurate about what was going on in LAUSD. It was not a state policy. To suggest LAUSD might have had some district management level micro-management issues is hardly news. On the other hand, as I’ve said before, the universe does not begin and end at the LA city limits.

          • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

            Rot? Are you sure, Doug? By 1998 I had been intimately familiar with how LAUSD approached bilingual education since 1981. It varied all over the place as it depended on the friendliness or hostility of the principal. Of course, there were some that had their own agenda. But to say that there was a prohibition to teach English to LEPs from K through 12 and it was directed by the Superintendent's Office from Harry Handler to Ruben … Read More

            Rot? Are you sure, Doug?

            By 1998 I had been intimately familiar with how LAUSD approached bilingual education since 1981.

            It varied all over the place as it depended on the friendliness or hostility of the principal. Of course, there were some that had their own agenda. But to say that there was a prohibition to teach English to LEPs from K through 12 and it was directed by the Superintendent’s Office from Harry Handler to Ruben Zacarias is a big lie.

            Maybe your school (Ramona Elementary, wasn’t it?) had one of those principals but to say that all the rest forbid their teachers to speak English is, again, a big lie. Yes, I was expecting this and confirmed it from my source: I was told that “of course not” when I asked if teachers were forbidden from teaching English in elementary schools back then.

            BTW, I also know for a fact that LAUSD actively discouraged any parent from demanding bilingual education. Bilingual coordinators were told to deny that bilingual classes were possible under 227 and to threaten the parents that if they insisted, their kids could be bused to a school that would offer it. This was straight from a bilingual coordinator.

            So don’t tell me that LAUSD was adamant about bilingual education. They dropped it like a hot potato the moment they could. Did immersion work? Not to the degree you and your friends claimed it would. Why doesn’t it work? Because it is not enough to bring up the academic English these kids need to be reclassified. You know that, but you pretend that isn’t true.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            "Why doesn’t it work? Because it is not enough to bring up the academic English these kids need to be reclassified." Maybe, but whether it is or not, students have to want to learn it or even the best ELD program will fail. The question is how many kids actually do want to learn English? KQED radio had show on Forum about the ACLU's suit and here's a comment from the blog: " I do not think … Read More

            “Why doesn’t it work? Because it is not enough to bring up the academic English these kids need to be reclassified.”

            Maybe, but whether it is or not, students have to want to learn it or even the best ELD program will fail. The question is how many kids actually do want to learn English?

            KQED radio had show on Forum about the ACLU’s suit and here’s a comment from the blog:

            ” I do not think the schools are failing ESL kids. I was one of those kids who knew nothing about English(beginner level) and survived. Kids these days just never put the effort they need to learn what they should be learning in class. Parents, and the society has way more responsibility in terms of teaching these kids English. During high school, and even college, I always see group of kids only hang out with people who speak their native tongue(which isn’t english) and that is a major reason of them not able to learn English. They NEVER speak it. If the kids aren’t even speaking English in school, would you expect them to speak english with their parents? NO. School is only there to guide students to a good future. It is not guaranteed. If the student is not working on their part and try to learn, there is nothing a school can do to help the kids. WAKE UP PEOPLE. Or think about this problem in another perspective… It is like a student who is taking a French class in high school, never try speaking it out of class and not pay too much attention during class. It is definitely not the teachers’/schools’ fault for not teaching the kid French. Same theory applies to ESL kids”

          • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

            Wait, there are kids in college who can’t speak english or who have social habits that lead them to fail? How does that work?

  9. JB 2 years ago2 years ago

    Wow! Another attempt to neuter an initiative which passed overwhelmingly. My feeling is [that] if parents want this for their children they should pay for it. Very few are completely fluent in more than one language and many are not even fluent in one. But let's face it these programs are not about fluency but about power and politics. And any objection such as this one will be meet with cries of "nativism" "reactionary" or … Read More

    Wow! Another attempt to neuter an initiative which passed overwhelmingly. My feeling is [that] if parents want this for their children they should pay for it. Very few are completely fluent in more than one language and many are not even fluent in one. But let’s face it these programs are not about fluency but about power and politics. And any objection such as this one will be meet with cries of “nativism” “reactionary” or “racist”.
    That these immersion programs retard the learning of English is never mentioned.
    It should also be noted that English is the de facto language of international commerce and aviation. More books are translated into and from English than any language. And like love and marriage English and the rule of law go together like a horse and carriage. How could any discussion on the topic of language ignore those facts?
    If the desire is to improve skills in conversation perhaps Latin should be taught. It is after all the root language of Spanish and some 75% of English is Latin based.
    So thank you for your time and attention. I look forward to you response.

    Replies

    • Lillian Mongeau 2 years ago2 years ago

      Hi JB, You're right that students in dual language immersion programs tend to learn English more slowly than their peers in English-immersion programs. I addressed that in the section of the article that summarized the research on the subject, to wit: "Researchers found that many students enrolled in English immersion classes, which focus on teaching English and offer no instruction in students’ primary language, were reclassified as fluent in English before finishing elementary school, said Ilana Umansky, … Read More

      Hi JB,

      You’re right that students in dual language immersion programs tend to learn English more slowly than their peers in English-immersion programs. I addressed that in the section of the article that summarized the research on the subject, to wit:

      “Researchers found that many students enrolled in English immersion classes, which focus on teaching English and offer no instruction in students’ primary language, were reclassified as fluent in English before finishing elementary school, said Ilana Umansky, now an education professor at the University of Oregon and co-author of the study. That jump start didn’t help them in middle school, though, when their peers who had been enrolled in bilingual or dual immersion classes began getting reclassified and performed better on tests that measure academic proficiency.”

      There are five paragraphs about the existing research towards the end of the article.

      Thanks for reading,
      Lillian

      • JB 2 years ago2 years ago

        Don’t look now but your bias is showing. These ‘studies’ all have a point of view which is Not about language but about power and politics. You have not come close to scratching the surface of my post but no surprise there. Thanks for reading

      • Joanne Jacobs 2 years ago2 years ago

        Lillian, was the Stanford study comparing immersion students to bilingual students who'd been reclassified as fluent in middle school? Or was it all ex-immersion to all ex-bilingual? What percentage of bilingual students in the district remained in the English Learner category through middle school? Schools typically don't reclassify students as fluent till they've achieved grade-level test scores, regardless of how fluently they speak "social English." If the study is comparing 95% of immersion students to … Read More

        Lillian, was the Stanford study comparing immersion students to bilingual students who’d been reclassified as fluent in middle school? Or was it all ex-immersion to all ex-bilingual?

        What percentage of bilingual students in the district remained in the English Learner category through middle school?

        Schools typically don’t reclassify students as fluent till they’ve achieved grade-level test scores, regardless of how fluently they speak “social English.” If the study is comparing 95% of immersion students to 65% of bilingual students, it’s apples v. oranges.

        Looking at 12th-grade performance also is problematic since weaker students — especially permanent English Learners — are far more likely to drop out.

        • Lillian Mongeau 2 years ago2 years ago

          Hi Joanne, The study compared the performance of all of the students in immersion to all of the students in three types of bilingual program. It tracked when they reclassified and how they performed after reclassification. So if student A reclassified from immersion in 3rd grade and student B reclassified from bilingual in 6th grade, a comparison of the two in 9th grade would look at results on the same tests in that grade. Does that … Read More

          Hi Joanne,

          The study compared the performance of all of the students in immersion to all of the students in three types of bilingual program. It tracked when they reclassified and how they performed after reclassification. So if student A reclassified from immersion in 3rd grade and student B reclassified from bilingual in 6th grade, a comparison of the two in 9th grade would look at results on the same tests in that grade. Does that make sense?

          You also asked: “What percentage of bilingual students in the district remained in the English Learner category through middle school?” It’s now been several weeks since I read the study, so you’ll have to check it yourself. Sorry!

          You can read the full study here: http://cepa.stanford.edu/content/reclassification-patterns-among-latino-english-learner-students-bilingual-dual-immersion-and-english-immersion-classrooms

          If you don’t have time to read the entire study in detail, you will find the intro and findings sections well-written and easy to read. (And before someone hits me with this, yes, I read the whole study in detail 😉

          Thanks for reading,
          Lillian

        • Jill Kerper Mora 2 years ago2 years ago

          Joanne, Questions about the methodology applied in any particular study on the academic achievement outcomes of different language education programs, while legitimate, are pretty much beside the point. This is true since the vast consensus of the full body of research is that well-implemented bilingual or dual language education programs consistently yield better long-term outcomes for language minority students than English-only programs. See for example the meta-analysis of the research on education of language minorities … Read More

          Joanne,

          Questions about the methodology applied in any particular study on the academic achievement outcomes of different language education programs, while legitimate, are pretty much beside the point. This is true since the vast consensus of the full body of research is that well-implemented bilingual or dual language education programs consistently yield better long-term outcomes for language minority students than English-only programs. See for example the meta-analysis of the research on education of language minorities titled The National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children & Youth Report 2006 (August & Shanahan, 2006). This report analyzed 290 plus methodologically sound research studies and concluded that programs that taught native-language literacy to language-minority students gave these students distinct advantages in their long-term academic success, as measured by tests in English.

          The research clearly and unequivocally favors effective bilingual/dual language instruction for addressing the academic success of students who speak a language other than English in the home.

    • GS 2 years ago2 years ago

      First of all, "thank you" Lillian for posting the article. I am surprised that their are still people coming done from the "Uninformed Mountains," or they were held hostage in a "closet," for so many years. Never the less, we are here on earth for the same purpose, "life," and we will do or say what ever it takes to survive. The world of today is so different than twenty years ago. As a … Read More

      First of all, “thank you” Lillian for posting the article. I am surprised that their are still people coming done from the “Uninformed Mountains,” or they were held hostage in a “closet,” for so many years. Never the less, we are here on earth for the same purpose, “life,” and we will do or say what ever it takes to survive. The world of today is so different than twenty years ago.

      As a “Second Language Learner” my self, I have live through the difficult process of acculturation and have learned to live and work with people like “JB.” If you have never lived through it, you may never understand it.

      The answer is so simple; when you have two students starting at Kindergarten, one English speaking the other speaks another language. Both are 5 years old but the English speaker has 5 yrs of English Language and the other student has “0” yrs. of English. They are both at the start of the “Education Race,” and after 2 yrs in school learning English, one now has 7 yrs of English, the other has 2 yrs. The education experience continues and at the end of elementary school, one has 11 yrs of English (5 yrs. old + 6 years in school= 11), while the other student has a total of 6 yrs of English.

      Oh yes English Immersion will truly help a Second Language Learner become fluent in English and by the time the student graduates from High School, he/she will be so far behind the other students, that the only thing these students will be ready for is to work in restaurants, hotels, yards, factories and farm labor.

      Of course their may be a few brighter students or “Gifted Second Language Learners,” and they may even have a chance at a “White Caller Job,” but is that what we want for all of our Second Language Learners? Let us not forget JB that many of today’s schools have more than 50% of Second Language Learners enrolled. The school I work at, has 89% of students speaking another language that is not English. In fact all four of our schools, in our district, have about the same percentages.

      The people that decided in the past to vote for the English Only initiative are not the same people who are here now. The constitution protects all citizens and it doesn’t state, “only if you are English speaking.” The taxes we pay, do not have a language attached to them and many of our parent, grandparent, and great grand-parents, worked hard to harvest food and clean after everyone for years. In my mind, they have already paid in advance for our education.

      Can’t we all just get alone?

  10. Hannah Katz 2 years ago2 years ago

    My granddaughter is being raised in an English speaking home, but attends a Spanish immersion pre-school and loves it. She is approaching fluency and actually corrects her parents' limited Spanish. She even speaks with a Mexican accent. This is in less than a year, going three days a week. She is a bright little girl, but I believe children who speak other languages at home can learn English in short order if put … Read More

    My granddaughter is being raised in an English speaking home, but attends a Spanish immersion pre-school and loves it. She is approaching fluency and actually corrects her parents’ limited Spanish. She even speaks with a Mexican accent. This is in less than a year, going three days a week.

    She is a bright little girl, but I believe children who speak other languages at home can learn English in short order if put in an English immersion classroom. I realize the bilingual education teachers might be out of a job, but we need to do what is best for the children, and English fluency at a young age is the answer. Dragging out the learning of English over years is unfair to the children.

    Replies

    • Peary 11 months ago11 months ago

      Yes, your granddaughter is learning Spanish, but the Hispanic kids who are speaking Spanish at home, and in school, AND with their friends, are NOT learning English very well at all. These types of schools also have more of a segregated feeling. If these children had been immersed TOTALLY into English, like every other country does, they would all be fluent.

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