Civil rights laws and judicial mandates during the 1960’s and early 1970’s supported the need for bilingual education as a process to instruct large numbers of U.S.-born English learners and immigrant non-English-speaking children from Latin America, Southeast Asia, and other regions.
The influx of immigrant groups into the United States since the early colonial period long required that non-English-speaking newcomer children receive instruction in their home language. During the eighteenth century, school instruction throughout what is now Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and North and South Carolina was delivered in German, often to the total exclusion of English. Bilingual schools were also provided for the French students in Louisiana
In early colonial America and through the late nineteenth century, there were no legal restrictions that prevented schools for immigrant students from using native (non-English) languages for instructional purposes. There were laws that required the teaching of English, but no explicit requirements that outlawed teaching in other languages. Communities chiefly in rural agrarian enclaves in early America wielded major control over their schools with little or no intervention from central legislative or administrative agencies. This allowed German
After the 1803 purchase of the Louisiana Territory by the United States,
Conquered Spanish-speaking groups in Texas, New Mexico, California, and other southwestern states after the Mexican War ended in 1848 initially experienced the same fate as the French speakers of Louisiana. A school law in
Native American groups, such as the
This pattern of state governments’ enactment of English-only laws and efforts to integrate all non-English groups began during the late nineteenth century, when
Arab American schoolgirls in a bilingual grade school class in Dearborn, Michigan, in 1995.
The signing of the
Immigration into the United States primarily from developing countries since the mid-1980’s has heavily affected the public schools and created the need for expanded bilingual and
Although immigrants have come to United States from virtually every corner of the world, Mexico and Spanish-speaking countries in Central America have dominated U.S. immigration. The impact of Latinos has been especially felt in public education. This group accounts for the largest enrollment increase in the schools since the early 1990’s. These are children who are, for the most part, limited- or non-English proficient and account for the greatest number of English learners in bilingual and ESL education. While Spanish is the mother tongue of three in four English learners in bilingual and ESL programs, other languages spoken by elementary and secondary students include Vietnamese, Hmong, Cantonese, Korean, Haitian, Russian, Creole, Arabic, Urdu, Tagalog, Mandarin, Serbo-Croatian, Lao, Japanese,
Increases in the numbers of both documented and undocumented immigrants and concomitant growth of publicly funded services, including bilingual and ESL programs for newcomer group children, have fomented rising opposition to special language programs for and treatment of immigrant groups.
Proponents for greater linguistic and cultural tolerance, such as the
One of the principal advocates for immigrant and U.S.-born language-minority students is the
Blanton, Carlos Kevin. The Strange Career of Bilingual Education in Texas, 1836-1981. College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2004. Historical account of Texas’s bilingual tradition and how various immigrant groups, including Spanish-speaking Tejano groups, adapted to or resisted government laws to assimilate into the mainstream English-speaking culture. Crawford, James. At War with Diversity: U.S. Language Policy in an Age of Anxiety. Buffalo, N.Y.: Multilingual Matters, 2000. Penetrating discussion of the debate engendered by the English-only movement. _______. Educating English Learners: Language Diversity in the Classroom. 5th ed. Los Angeles: Bilingual Educational Services, 2004. Focuses on the students in bilingual and ESL programs and politics surrounding their education. González, Josué M. “Coming of Age in Bilingual/Bicultural Education: A Historical Perspective.” Inequality in Education 19 (February, 1975): 5-17. Overview of the historical development of bilingual education in the United States.
Bilingual Education Act of 1968
Civil Rights movement
English as a second language
English-only and official English movements
Latin American immigrants
Lau v. Nichols
Plyler v. Doe