U.S. Bilingual Education Controversy Continues

Teach ESL Students in Native Languages or Through English Immersion?

The Texas Public Policy Foundation released a September 2009 report stating, “Bilingual education is more expensive than other programs and is the least educationally effective.” Following that report came a call in the September 3, 2009 Houston Chronicle by the report’s author, Christine Rossell, to end Texas’ bilingual education policy, calling it “outdated and ineffective.”

At about the same time, an article in the September 4, 2009 Fresno Bee touted a “structured English immersion” program developed by educational consultant Kevin Clark and being used in a number of school districts in California, Massachusetts, and Arizona. Reportedly the districts involved are experiencing “dramatic success.”

The controversy over bilingual education centers around the question of whether it is effective or even desirable for English language learners to be taught core subjects in their native language or whether they should be fully immersed in English at school.

The Case for Bilingual Education

Bilingual education refers to specific school programming in which English as a second language (ESL) students are taught math, science and social studies in their native language whenever possible. Delivery models for such instruction vary from district to district and even from school to school, but the key component is the use of the students’ native language for targeted instruction. Proponents of bilingual education say that if ESL students wait until they are proficient in English to learn essential math and science, they will lag behind their English speaking peers.

The National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE) is one of a number of bilingual education support organizations that believes bilingual education, when well designed and well implemented, is an effective model for teaching English language learners. NABE cites research studies on its website supporting the efficacy of bilingual education. NABE also promotes the concept of bi-literacy, saying that people who are bi-literate will fare better in a global world.

The Case for English Immersion

Some educators argue that ESL students need to be fully immersed in English if they are to learn the language. They argue that allowing and even encouraging students to learn in their primary language is expensive and does not expose them to enough English to become proficient quickly.

In an April 2009 Educational Leadership article titled “The Case For Structured Immersion,” Kevin Clark describes an instructional model in which significant portions of the school day are dedicated to the explicit teaching of the English language, and in which ESL students are grouped according to their proficiency levels. In this model, English language is the main content of instruction with academic content playing a supportive role, as opposed to a bilingual model in which academic content is the main focus, with English being supported. A main tenant of structured English immersion is that teaching English is not the same as teaching in English.

The disadvantage of the structured English immersion program is that students are not exposed to the level of content instruction that is possible in when a bilingual program offers instruction in their native language. Presumably, in districts in which the state has not restricted bilingual teaching, students could still receive some content instruction in their own languages.

States Outlaw Bilingual Education

Janel D. Ginn, editor of the book Bilingual Education [Greenhaven Press, 2008] suggests that the debate over bilingual education evolves almost exclusively around two languages: English and Spanish. She suggests that the controversy “is not so much an issue of instruction, but one of competing cultures.”

That notion may not be so off base. Three states, California, Arizona, and Massachusetts, have enacted laws (in 1998, 2000, and 2002 respectively) requiring that only English be taught in pubic schools and essentially outlawing bilingual education programming. In all three states, the laws were ballot initiatives put before voters and approved in referendum.

A number of states mandate or financially support bilingual education, including Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Washington, New Mexico, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Nevada. However, many of these states have or have had ballot initiatives to reverse the mandates and require English-only instruction. Colorado was the first state to vote down an initiative to end bilingual education (in 2002).

The Controversy Over English Instruction Continues

Research shows that students learn academic content best when they learn in their native language and that children can succeed in two languages. However, some bilingual programs, such as the one in Texas, apparently do a poor job of helping ESL students become proficient in English, while some immersion programs, such as those used in Arizona, seem to be providing positive results, though it may be at the expense of academic learning.

The one thing that is not disputed is that in order to succeed in American society, students need to become proficient in English. Should ESL programming utilize full immersion, structured immersion, a bilingual model or some combination? Each has its advantages and disadvantages. One model of instruction may not fit all circumstances. The answer may well be different for different schools with differently diverse populations.

How to Integrate English Language Learners

Tips on Supporting ELLs in the General Education Classroom

Teachers realize that many of their struggling ELLs need more than just reading support. An individual plan ensures that teachers are doing all they can to support their ELLs as they gain word and text based skills from year to year. By understanding the struggles English language learners experience, teachers can help these students succeed by structuring activities a bit differently for them.

Use Small Group Instruction

The benefits of small group instruction allow for more student-teacher interaction as well as opportunities for students to become much more involved in the general education classroom. In a small group setting, teachers can provide guided practice which can motivate and support struggling English language learners.

As a group work procedure, teachers can create simple systems like a “buddy system” where an ELL is paired with a native English speaking student. This eases isolation and helps an English language learner adjust to his/her new classroom. Teachers can also use pair and trio work where one child speaks the English language learner’s mother tongue and is more proficient in English. Provide opportunities for ELLs to compare and contrast themselves using a Venn-Diagram. Display the diagrams and have students report to another pair what they learned.

Use Small Group Teaching Skills

Teachers may find they need to diversify their instruction by providing more guided practice in areas of reading support. For example, when teaching ESL reading skills, teachers may find they need to include more in-depth reading strategies than they would ordinarily do during whole class instruction.

To cope with the difficulty of understanding advanced texts, making connections between ideas and lack of vocabulary knowledge, teachers can use the same reading text for the class while adapting some of the reading and vocabulary activities and providing more direct guided instruction in small groups. This allows individual ELLs to progress according to their ability.

Incorporate Theme Units Based on Multicultural Content

One great way to cater to student diversity is to incorporate multicultural content for either small group or whole class instruction. Either way, teachers can help ease the cultural and social isolation by planning motivating lessons that incorporate the theme units around an ELL’s country, national food or culture. Students can prepare the national food or learn the targeted vocabulary. This also helps to create a classroom community.

In this authentic mode of instruction, teachers can also teach values of tolerance and diversity through multicultural books.In doing so, they can also create a sense of belonging by reading multicultural literature. With the increasing number of English language learners in schools, teachers need plenty of authentic fiction and non-fiction that caters to student diversity.

To recap, ESL students face several common problems when they learn a new language as they transition to a new culture and connect to the classroom community. They also may lack a transition group. Teachers can support English language learners by giving them various instructional and learning opportunities using small group teaching skills and instruction so they can ultimately survive and thrive in the general education classroom.


International Living & Travel With Pets

Tips for Expats Airline Travel Abroad With Their Dogs or Cats

Most simply say goodbye to Buddy or Tabby. Some even choose not to accept that great job or adventure overseas.

At least one carrier, though, has learned how to make a profit with owners of small dogs. Dr. Berge Yacoub, a re-knowned veterinarian in Cairo, Egypt, tells his clients, “Lufthansa is the best. They take very good care of your pets. Also, they were the first airline to let small dogs ride in the cabin with their owners.”

Smaller Dogs and Cats Ride in the Cabin With Their Owners

Lufthansa and members of their Star Alliance (United Air Lines is one member) permit pets in small carriers, with a gross weight not exceeding 20 Lbs (8 Kg), to ride in the cabin with their owner provided the

  • pet has a reservation (arrange for this when booking a flight)
  • pet is well-behaved
  • owner takes full responsibility
  • pet has a current rabies vaccination & health certificate
  • pet has a computer chip or, in some cases, a tattoo
  • owner pays the fee determined according to destination and
  • pet stays within carrier and the carrier will fit under the seat in front of the pet’s owner

If the pet with carrier is more than 20 lbs the pet will be transported in the cargo section dedicated for animals.

Whether taken in the cabin or in the cargo section, the cost remains the same. Traveling from the US to North Africa recently cost about $200. To other African countries the charge was $255, for example.

Quarantines, Health Certificates, Vaccinations, Computer Chips

When the pet travels with the owner and has the required vaccinations, health certificates and the computer chip, there is no quarantine.

Many stateside vets seem to be confused the first time someone approaches them regarding international pet travel. They often will be familiar only with transport regulations that seem to be more applicable for the individual who is sending an animal to someone, instead of the traveler who will accompany his or her best friend.

Therefore, it is common that the vet or technician will be wrongly oriented. No panic. Simply ask that they phone the state health department and explain precisely what is going on. In some states, such as North Dakota, it will be necessary that the health certificate be stamped by a state health official, then mailed back to the examining doctor. In other states, such as Oregon, there ordinarily is no such practice. Interview with Lake Region Veterinary Service Dr. Nathan Zieman, Devil’s Lake, ND July 14, 2009.

Generally, however, the pet will be required to have, in addition to proof of rabies vaccination and the health certificate, a computer chip. This machine-readable probe is inserted just beneath the animal’s skin by a vet using a hypodermic needle. When the serialized chip is purchased, it comes with several self-adhesive numbered strips. Following each health check-up, the vet will affix one of these stickers at the appropriate spot on the health certificate and the pet’s health record pouch. [See illustration]

The Health Certificate needs to be dated within the 10 to 14 days (or less) preceding the flight. This requirement applies whether leaving from or returning to America.

Food Water & Heat Exhaustion or Environmental Protection

Except in hot weather there is usually no need provide water for the trip unless traveling in the luggage or cargo area. Even then, Dr. Yacoub claims, “Dogs and cats do better without food and water. They can easily go for 24 hours with neither. Especially regarding food, because they can get motion sickness when flying if they have eaten.”

Consult the airline regarding cold weather transport if the pet is going to travel in other than the cabin.

Rarely, a pet might require a calming sedative. Administer these directly or mixed in food only when necessary, because many dogs will become fearful and nervous due to the effects of the medication.

Planning Preparation & Organization Provide Adventures for Pet Owners & Their Best Friends

The 21st Century is wide open for vagabonds who wish to travel overseas accompanied by their loved pets, whether for work or play. The minimal effort and moderate cost in getting vaccinations, health certificates, chips or tattoos and an acceptable carrier, plus finding a travel agent and a willing airline will pay big dividends.

Many people might agree with Dr Yacoub, “I cannot understand how anyone can think to travel while leaving behind the one who loves them unconditionally.”



Pros & Cons of Moving Abroad & Working Overseas

Evaluating Cost Benefit Ratio of International Employment

One often will find better opportunity for promotion and increased salary by seeking employment as an expatriate. Indeed, during a recession, working abroad may well be the only viable means of paying the mortgage.

Or, perhaps, seeking work in other countries may be seen as the quick route to building a nest egg for retirement, a college education for the children, or to garner enough cash to start a new business venture.

Adventure in other lands, among other societies is often reward enough. Getting paid big salaries while touring the world’s exotic vacation destinations intrigues many. This point is of special importance to volunteers considering charity work abroad.

Living, Working Abroad Requires Sacrifice for People Working Overseas

Before plunging in head first, prospective expats need to evaluate their ability to:

  • endure long durations of separation from the spouse and family
  • adjust to an environment wherein special care or medication may not be available
  • adapt to different lifestyles and culture and even different languages
  • alter his or her routine for sleep, entertainment and work
  • accommodate him or her self to their new role as a supervisor or manager
  • change eating and drinking habits
  • possibly having to cease alcohol consumption altogether
  • get along with others whose lifestyle or religious practices greatly differ

Admittedly, the world seemingly grows smaller every year. Thus, through the miracle of cell phones, hi-speed Internet and VOIP there are fewer places on the globe that require so stark a sacrifice as 20 years ago. Still, the adjustment to a new lifestyle is not easily made. Satellite TV, I Phones and Kindles are smoothing the transition from living in in comfort in Silicon Valley or in the remote African bush. I Pads will soon further ease the shift for many American expatriates.

Living, Working Abroad Brings Great Pay, Friendship, Adventure for American Expats

Sacrifices noted above are somewhat evened out by:

  • salaries that often pay double the stateside salary and are usually tax exempt
  • lasting friendships (both with other expats and with people of the host country)
  • adventure to exotic lands that people pay thousands to see for only a week
  • opportunities to build stock photo portfolios or daily logs for use in writing

Expat American Engineers in Demand and Earn Big Pay Working Abroad

Construction projects, funded by or for oil and energy, continue throughout much of the Middle East and North Africa. Mammoth projects such as the world’s tallest structure, Burj Dubai, erected by a subsidiary of Orascom Construction Industries, has completed. So, too, has the Dubai Mall, the world’s largest mall.

American Expat Safety Engineers, QC Professionals Well Paid for Working Abroad

A number of international companies involved in power generation, oil and gas or petrochemical, or in construction are in constant demand to recruit qualified managers, supervisors and technicians so they can meet stringent international standards cost-effectively.

International Standards Organization (ISO) specifications are being applied to most internationally-funded construction and also are being used for food and medical industries, as well as many service-oriented businesses. This is resulting in the need to recruit and employ Westerners, particularly Europeans and American personnel with experience as quality or safety professionals.

Membership in ASSE, American Society of Safety Engineers, is a definite plus for Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) employment by international corporations.

Trade associations within the United States of America have, or are linked and networked with testing and certifying agencies recognized internationally and are highly recommended for prospective American expatriates seeking work abroad as HSE or QC engineers:

Many American Expats Feel Pros Outweigh Cons of Living Working Abroad

Challenges posed by living in unfamiliar surroundings, often in weather or unsavory environmental conditions. Dreaded “Culture shock” also can spoil that first attempt to get assimilated into societies practicing other religions or customs where the nearly-sacred no longer Bill of Rights reigns.

If it is determined that the pay and benefits of moving abroad and working overseas is worth the cost, a grand adventure beckons.


The Big Guide to Living And Working Overseas, by Jean-Marc Hachey, (4th edition revised 2007) published by Intercultural Systems Systemes Interculturels, ISSI, was consulted in preparing this report and provides a wealth of information in its 1,000-plus pages. This “Bible” includes a wealth of information regarding charity work abroad and volunteer work abroad.

Finding a Job Overseas

With Determination, Snagging an International Job Could Happen

Each year, more American expats leave the country in search of something new and exciting. Sometimes they’re looking for an extended vacation and other times for a door to living in another country long-term. By following these strategies and options, you can make your dream of living and working abroad a reality.

Bridge the Gap with an Internship

Internships aren’t nearly as hard to snag as full-time jobs, but the downside is that they usually don’t pay. If you can afford to suck it up for a couple of months, though, an internship can pave the way for a full-time job abroad.

If you’re still in college, take advantage of the career services department to ask about international internships where you’d like to work. Some international companies have special arrangements with certain colleges, and that may be a way in.

If you’re not in college, finding an internship can be a little tougher, but start by figuring out where you want to go and then research companies you’d like to work for in that area. Contact a human resources representative to start contact about a potential internship.

Once a company knows you and has worked with you, they’ll be much more likely to spend company resources to secure your visa and bring you on as a full-time employee.

Take Advantage of Transfers

While it doesn’t always furnish an immediate opportunity to move and work abroad, it’s often a good idea to start for a multi-national company that would allow transfer opportunities in the future. While you may have to sweat it out for a couple of years, these companies often have the resources to pay for your move and possibly even your housing in your new home while you work there.

If you pursue this option, you may even have the chance to live and work in several foreign countries for the same company over your career, all while not worrying about a steady paycheck.

Line it up Before you Leave

There are lots of web sites and books that are full of resources for international job-seekers that you could search out from home while you save money and plan your trip. If you’re determined, you should leave no stone unturned. Reading individual countries’ immigration sites can often provide information about the kinds of workers those countries need at the present time, which can help you target an industry where you’re more likely to find an opening and a company willing to sponsor your immigration process.

Profit from Your Youth

If you’re under 30, there are several countries, like New Zealand and Australia, that will offer you a working holiday visa to stay for several months and work while you’re in the country to fund your travel. Ask at the college career services office or search online for working holiday programs to find out about eligibility and participating countries.

Go and Cross your Fingers

The last option, if you’re not having any luck, is to save your money and take the plunge, hoping to find a job once you’re in your new country. Make sure you have enough money to last at least a month while you job hunt, and be sure you have enough money to get back home if your plans fall through. Then knock on anyone’s door who will listen, and work on achieving that dream of being the international worker and traveler.

Overall, immigration to a new country where you want to live and work in the 21st century is tough, but not impossible. Take heart, have patience and remember to explore all your options in order to end up in your dream place, working your dream job!

French and English, Canada’s Official Languages

Two of the Many Tongues Spoken in a Country of Many Nations

The languages of a country can tell a great deal about its history, culture, and people, especially when those languages are legally designated as the official tongues for government and schools. Many countries have only one official language despite the many other languages that might be in everyday use in homes and schools.

Other countries, like Switzerland, have four or five official tongues. In Canada, the historic struggle between the French and the English to possess the northern colonies of the New World resulted in the establishment of two official languages. Although they now compete for use with many other languages, they still remain the two dominant languages of the country.

The Official Languages of Canada

The official designation of French and English as Canada’s official languages only hints at the country’s linguistic diversity. The Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) lists 86 living languages in use among the 32, 271,000 people in the 2001 Canadian census, with English used by 20,000,000 and French by 6,700,000. One of the main dialects of English is spoken in Newfoundland, where the speech patterns and accent resemble the dialect of Ireland. Canadian French, in contrast, has four main dialects, which include Québécois, Franco-Ontarien, Acadian (Acadien), and Shippagan.

Each dialect has its own unique terminology and usage which might cause moments of confusion for visitors from other parts of the country. In British Columbia, for example, a telephone line within an organization is called a “local,” while in many other parts of the country, it is an “extension.” Similarly, the term “dainties” to designate small cakes and cookies eaten at special events in Manitoba is largely unknown in the rest of the country. Besides these regional differences are the many Canadians who speak foreign languages such as Welsh, Polish, Bulgarian, and Arabic or indigenous languages such as Algonquin, Cree, and Micmac.

Official Languages in Government and Daily Life

Despite having two official languages for Government of Canada documents and services, most of the provinces are officially unilingual. According to the Government of Canada website, English is the most commonly used tongue except in Quebec, where French is the official language. Only New Brunswick, with a large French population among the English speakers, is officially bilingual.

Having two official languages has affected daily life in Canada, with instruction manuals and food labels printed in both languages, French language classes available in many schools, and many bilingual services in government offices. Although languages such as German and Ukrainian are commonly used in some parts of the country, people almost everywhere in Canada will understand at least one of the official languages.

With two official languages and many other tongues spoken throughout the country, Canada has many ways for its people to communicate.