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[Susan notes: Wouldn't it be great if an exhaltation of letter writers across the country could counter every misrepresentation about education?]

Published in Yakima Herald-Republic

To the editor

Washington State officials are right to question

Wapato’s School District decision to weaken bilingual

programs by reducing the use of the native language.

Bilingual director David Juarez’s assertion that the

use of both the native language and English will

retard the development in English is false (Greene,

1998; Krashen and McField, 2005). Research in second

language acquisition consistently shows that the use

of the native language accelerates the acquisition of

English, the opposite of Juarez’s belief. The

proposed “remedy” to the “problem” of students’ rate

of English language acquisition is problematic for

two reasons: one is that more time spent in English,

the “time on task” hypothesis, has no credible

evidence to support it (Crawford, 1998), and two,the

amount of time students are given to acquire

academic, grade level English proficiency is being

driven by arbitrary English language testing deadlines

which are totally unrelated to second language

acquisition research (Collier, 1987, 1992, 1995;

Cummins, 1981, 1984, 2000), an therefore akin to

killing the patient with the so-called medicine.

Below I provide references for the statements of fact,

to comply with your policy regarding such statements in letters to the editor.


Collier, V.P. (1987) Age and Rate of Acquisition of

Second Language for Academic

Purposes. TESOL Quarterly 21, 617-41.

_________. (1992) A Synthesis of Studies Examining

Long-Term Language Minority Students Data on Academic

Achievement. Bilingual Education Research Journal 16,


_________. (1995) Promoting Academic Success for ESL

Students. Elizabeth, N.J. TESOL-BE. Crawford, J.

(1998) Ten Common Fallacies About Bilingual Education.

Eric Digest Online, EDO-FL-98-10. Retrieved Jan 29,

2006 from:


Cummins, J. (1981) The Role of Primary Language

Development in Promoting Educational Success for

Language Minority Students. In California State

Department of Education (ed.) Schooling and Language

Minority Students: A Theoretical Rationale (pp. 3-49).

Los Angeles, CA:

California State University.

__________. (1984) Bilingualism and Special

Education: Issues in Assessment and Pedagogy. San

Diego, CA: College-Hill Press.

__________. (2000) Language, Power and Pedagogy:

Bilingual Children in the Crossfire.

Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Greene, J. 1998. A Meta-Analysis of the Effectiveness

of Bilingual Education. Claremont,

CA: Tomas Rivera Policy Institute.

Krashen, S.D. and McField, G. (2005) What Works?

Reviewing the Latest Evidence on

Bilingual Education. Language Learner vol. 1:2, 7-10.

Juliet Luther

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