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Measure 58: English as a Second Language

OPB | Oct. 9, 2008 midnight | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 8:45 p.m.

What is the best approach to teaching English as a second language in Oregon schools?

Anyone who has ever learned a second language knows it takes time, but how much time is certainly debatable. Ballot Measure 58 brings that discussion to the forefront of Oregon politics this election season. The initiative — one of five authored by Bill Sizemore — would prohibit teaching public school students in a language other than English for more than two years.

Instead of English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, the measure would put students in immersion classes to transition them from bilingual education to instruction in English only. The measure does not define “immersion” and the ballot’s explanatory statement indicates that were Measure 58 to pass, the legislature would need to step in to address this point. Proponents of the measure say it would help improve students’ chances of learning English. Opponents argue that by creating a statewide mandate, the law would diminish local control, preventing parents and teachers from making decisions based on what’s best for individual students.

Is English your second (or third or fourth) language? How did you learn? Do you teach ESL or language immersion classes? What is the most effective approach to teaching English as a second language in Oregon schools?

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