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Bilingual Education and Teacher Expectations

Today I ran into one of my old colleagues that I used to teach with in a transitional bilingual education program. She is still a bilingual teacher, while I have since left the classroom and am an administrator. I was mentioning all of the new training that I have been conducting for teachers in bilingual programs and Dual Immersion settings, which I plan on blogging about at a later time. At one point in the conversation, I stated to her, “We’ve really got to increase the rigor of our bilingual programs. I feel that there is a deficit, remedial mindset of many teachers in bilingual programs. We have to reconceptualize that our bilingual programs are enrichment, not remedial language programs”.

She stated to me, “I’m just happy if my first grade students can write one letter of the alphabet correctly. Forget about enrichment; some of our kids can barely read or write”.

I replied, “I’ve been in kindergarten and bilingual classrooms and the students are actually writing multiple sentences and sometimes paragraphs. Of course the teachers need to scaffold and mediate such instruction for students at such a young age, but it can be done and students will rise to the occasion if teachers organize for educational success in their classroom”.

She laughed and said, “Well, you obviously have been to a different city than the city where I teach because we don’t have those types of kids”. I quickly informed her that the classrooms that I described were actually in a more poverty stricken area than where she herself worked. 

This is not the first time nor the first teacher that I have had such a conversation with. 

Folks, we’ve got a serious problem as bilingual educators if we’re happy if our students can barely write a letter. If we continue to have low expectations for the students, we will continue to have poor results. Students in bilingual programs deserve the same quality of education that we would want for our very own children.

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Categories: Bilingual Education
  1. July 18, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    I agree with your comments about teacher expectations. This comment is just as challenging when we meet teachers in mainstream teaching our bilingual students.

  2. multilingualmania
    July 19, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    Most definitely-it is just so much more troubling with even bilingual teachers do it to bilingual children! It just really gets under my skin!!!

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