Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Bilingual education is harmful

I know English-speaking parents who goto great trouble and expense to create a bilingual environment for their kids, or to send the kids to an expensive private school that teaches a foreign language. If pressed, some of them will quote research showing that knowing foreign languages makes one smarter.

All of that is bogus.

Here is the current research:
But a growing number of psychologists say that this mountain of evidence is actually a house of cards, built upon flimsy foundations. According to Kenneth Paap, a psychologist at San Francisco State University and the most prominent of the critics, bilingual advantages in executive function “either do not exist or are restricted to very specific and undetermined circumstances.”

Paap started looking into bilingualism in 2009, having spent 30 years studying the psychology of language. He began by trying to replicate some seminal experiments, including a classic 2004 paper by Bialystok involving the Simon task. ...

“It was a really exciting finding and one that I thought would be easy to study with my students,” says Paap. “But we just couldn’t replicate any of the effects.” After years of struggling, he published his results in 2013: three studies, 280 local college students, four tests of mental control including the Simon task, and no sign of a bilingual advantage.“That broke the dam,” he says. “Others started submitting negative results and getting their articles published.”
In some areas, bilingual education appears to be a plot to teach Mexican-Americans Spanish instead of English in schools, in order to keep them as an unassimilated worker class.

Ron Unz has worked for English in the schools.

Even rich educated SWPL often have all sorts of misguided beliefs in language education.

If you don't speak English, there are plenty of good reasons to learn English, as it has become the world's standard language. But there is no measurable value to learning any other language.


Anonymous said...

A plot to teach them spanish instead of english in schools ? Where did you get this plot idea from. The mexiacan American students learn english within 1-2 years when they arrive, if they don't already speak english. The schools require all students to pass english tests and classes to graduate. There's no plot. If the Mexiacan American kids at schools don't speak english, they teach them english. If any student wants to learn another language, the schools offer classes in foreign languages.

Roger said...

Here in California, we have teaching in Spanish to Mexican-American kids. And as Unz explains, we could soon get a lot more of it.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I didn't know that that occurs at public schools. Nevertheless, students still are forced to take english classes and english tests, and general tests are in english, too right ?

Roger said...

The cited Unz essay warns about: the current effort by the California Democrats and their (totally worthless) Republican allies to repeal my 1998 Prop. 227 “English for the Children” initiative.