I have a lot to learn about the benefits of ESL, English-only, and structured-English ... etc. I will take a look at the Collier and Thomas research mentioned, and google the topic.
BUT - I have a few reactions to the show.
1) Rick Hickey was so boorish that I suspect his opinions and facts.
Instead of waiting for his turn to speak and then stating any counter argument, qualification, clarification, ... he rudely interjected NO, NOPE, NOT TRUE, ... and you had to struggle to hear what the other guy was saying.
He frequently resorted to sarcasm, or mocking tone of voice, instead of sticking to rational argument. When he said "its not hard folks" in reference to gaining fluency in a 2nd language in freshman year, he not only generalizes from his experience (alleged) to everyone's ability, he mocks anyone who finds it difficult. Shame.
He rambled off into antidote, like some point about buying football helmets at some school that did not use all their ESL funds. We don't need this kind of red herring confusion in good policy debates.
2) I was astounded to hear that "research that begins with theory is suspect". The process of science is that theory generates hypotheses that get tested and then theory is revised if necessary. Researchers do need to be objective, and there is plenty of room to examine the objectivity of any particular researcher (as well as any denouncer of a research report) - BUT, BIG BUT, you do not do research with theory 1st. Mr. Hickey's research methods vocabulary and insight may be quite lacking.
3) We need to distinguish between what is best for society, what is best for the student-citizen, and what is best for the student-scholar. It is good for society to be united by language and kids that learn to speak English better will be able to participate more fully in the civil process - but this may come at not achieving all that can be achieved in some academic subjects. In other words, "speaking good enough", which has civil benefits, may not be the same as reading, writing, and comprehending as well. For a child learning math, or science, or any abstract concept, getting instruction in a primary language may increase scholastic results. So there is a tension between the civil benefit and the academic benefit. (... and someone else has raised the interesting issue of not every primary language can be served. But, if we have a lot of Spanish and Mandarin, do we deny them because we do not have a lot of Croatian?)
Surely, some limit to primary-language instruction is needed, but something other than 1 or 2 years fits all, is likely the best answer. I just doubt Mr. Hickey's motives and flexibility to work out the best solution instead of ramming through what seems to be his limited, and suspect, viewpoint.
posted 4 years, 8 months ago
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