Saturday, August 17, 2019
Policy Suggestions for Reopening Dual Language Essay
This empirical research will be presented to the Ministry of Education in Taiwan for the purpose of studying the possibility of reopening Chinese and English dual language kindergarten schools. Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã In 2004, the Ministry of Education in Taiwan had forbidden the operation and establishment of bilingual and English kindergarten schools. English could only be integrated in songs, plays, and activities but it could not be taught in the Chinese and English bilingual format and use as a medium of instruction. Kindergarten schools are not also allowed to hire any foreign teachers. All kindergarten teachers must be a natural born Taiwanese citizen. Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã In the same year, the spokesman of the Ministry of Education cited three reasons for implementing this educational policy. First, they feel that at the preschool stage children should master their primary language. Second, they are so concern with the quality of teaching as they found out that most foreign teachers who worked as English teachers in kindergarten schools do not have sufficient knowledge on early childhood education. These teachers are only hired because they are native English speakers. Third, although Taiwanese students officially begin learning English on the third grade, they do not lag behind their counterpart in other Asian countries. However, there is not enough research to prove the positive effect of banning the dual language kindergarten. The research cited by the Ministry of Education to support their policy is discussed in the review of literature. Review of Related Literature Research Supporting the Policy Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã The research used by the Ministry of Education of Taiwan as a basis in supporting its policy was conducted in 2001 by Dr. Chuang Shiang Chuan andÃ Ã Ã Ã Dr. Chaing Jen Ru. These professionals were invited to conduct a study on the possibility of integrating English in the kindergarten curriculum and hiring foreign teachers to teach in the kindergarten level. In this research, Dr. Chuang Shiang Chuan pointed out that language learning for children requires the use of both the expressive and thinking abilities. If the medium of instruction is strictly in English alone, the content of communication between the teacher and the students would be very limited. She also indicated that preschool children fail to accurately pronounce and comprehend a foreign language in comparison to the adult learners. Furthermore, she also stated that learning a foreign language could interfere in the learning of the mother tongue. In terms of hiring foreign teachers, Cheung (2001) felt that foreigners who are working as kindergarten English teachers do not have the required skills and knowledge on early childhood education. Their knowledge is only limited to the teaching of the English language. In addition, hiring of foreign teachers would result in the decrease of job opportunities for students who have completed their education degrees from the teacher preparation institutions. However, the findings of Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Dr. Cheung may not be objective and conflict of interest is evident as a result of her employment in one of the early childhood teacher preparation institutions. Besides, in the policy statement published by the Ministry of Education to the public on October 10, 2004, it was stated that the research was based on the neuroscience, linguistics and English education findings which indicated that learning English at an early age does not guarantee that children will learn better. The Ministry of Education also argued that teenagers learn a foreign language more efficiently than preschool children due to their more mature cognitive development. It is also stated that imposing the Ã¢â¬Å"No ChineseÃ¢â¬ kindergarten education would result in communication difficulty, emotional disturbance, conflict of values and problems in culture identity which could affect the development of Chinese language learning. Furthermore, the language barrier would limit the breath and dept of childrenÃ¢â¬â¢s learning. Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Lu & Chen (2003) who are researchers in Taiwan also supported the previous findings and argued that it is inappropriate for preschool children to learn a foreign language and culture at an early age. They believed that China would be the strongest country in terms of economic stability and the Chinese language would be the next universal language. Hence, parents should not be anxious to have their children learn English at a young age. They further stated that there is no critical period in learning a second language so it is not necessary to start learning at preschool age. The researchers also believed that having a good command of the native language is the foundation for learning a second language. The absence of an American or British accent is not an important matter to consider in learning the English language. Therefore, it is unnecessary to study English at an early age to avoid speaking with a foreign accent. Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Besides the two researchers and one government statement above, the book Ã¢â¬Å"My Child CanÃ¢â¬â¢t Speak ChineseÃ¢â¬ (Cheung, 2004) is also frequently cited by people who are against using English as the only medium of instruction in the kindergarten education. In this book, Cheung depicted her daughter who tends to combine the English and Chinese syntaxes when speaking Chinese after attending an English only kindergarten school. In the book, the arguments to ban the English only teaching in kindergarten school is understandable considering that children in Taiwan speak Chinese at home and kindergarten is the first education that they have experienced outside their homes. The use of English as the only medium of instruction in their first school may give the children the wrong impression that English is the formal school language. They may also think that their Chinese language is less important. These thoughts could possibly lead to the confusion of culture identity and negatively affect the learning of the Chinese language. Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã As an international student who had studied in various classes with native English instructors and have worked as the sole foreign teacher in an American school, I understand the anxiety that a child may feel in an English only environment based on my personal experience. Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Armed with a first hand experience in obtaining an education in an English only school under instructors who are native speakers of the English language and with an experience of being a foreign teacher in an international school, I can strongly understand and clearly see the point in the policy made in not allowing the operation of the English only kindergarten schools. However, in as much as I could empathized with the policy makers, I also felt the inadequacy of the study that was conducted before arriving at a recommendation to close and prohibit the existence of dual language kindergarten schools. There are many dual language kindergartens in the United States and I have taught in an English-Chinese dual lingual public school in New York, P.S. 184M, Shuang Wen School. This is the first dual lingual and bicultural public elementary school in the east coast. Children at Shuang Wen have regular English classes as other public school students and start learning Chinese from the kindergarten level and continue studying until the sixth grade. Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã In the Shuang WenÃ¢â¬â¢s website, there is a report cited that almost 100% of their students exceeded the required grade level standards of the New York State examination for Math and English. With Shuang WenÃ¢â¬â¢s success, one could only ponder as to why American students are allowed to enroll in an English and Chinese bilingual program since kindergarten while the Taiwanese students in Taiwan have to be deprived of this opportunity. I went through literature reviews by searching and reviewing dual language related literatures on databases of ERIC, ProQuest, Education Full Text, Digital Dissertations taken from the Teachers College as well as the TC Catalog (EDUCAT). The summary of my findings are written below. Research on Dual Lingual Education Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã The dual lingual education literature reviewed is presented here in the following sections: bilingual education has no harm, the benefits of bilingual education, the best bilingual education-dual language program, and the current situation of dual language programs. Bilingual Education Has No Harm Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Contrary to the findings of the researchers in Taiwan, Norbert (2005), Schambach (2006), Garcia (2006), and Pearson (2007) claimed that bilingual education has no harm to children at all. All the misconceptions were bias. For instance, CheungÃ¢â¬â¢s (2003) worry concerning her daughterÃ¢â¬â¢s combined usage of English and Chinese is actually unnecessary. The combined usage of language was part of a learning process that children want to experiment in order to determine which of these two languages the listenerÃ¢â¬â¢s Ã¢â¬Å"strongest languageÃ¢â¬ is. This method would also enable the children to communicate effectively with their listener (Garcia, 2007). Moreover, the capability of switching between two languages could increase childrenÃ¢â¬â¢s cognitive flexibility (Steward, 2004). In terms of the concerns about the lost of identity and delay in the development of the childrenÃ¢â¬â¢s first language, it was discovered that bilingual children do not have any identity issues because in the bilingual education, childrenÃ¢â¬â¢s culture are respected and recognized (Farmer, 1998 & Schambach, 2006). Some children may develop two identities since they are educated in using two languages and two cultures but this helps children to be more adaptable to the global world and prepare them better to be global citizens. Moreover, Schambach pointed out an example of an identity issue whereby an immigrant child, who emigrated from one country to another, felt totally lost when not being accepted in the new country and treated as a foreigner upon return to the country of origin for a short visit. This situation can happen to Taiwanese children if the government is not open to the education that the parents expect for their children in Taiwan. About 77% of parents in Taiwan hope that the government would allow the integration of English in the kindergarten curriculum (Wu & Cheng, 2002). The main reason for the immigration to the United States of Taiwanese families is to provide better education for their children. If Taiwanese government fails to meet parentsÃ¢â¬â¢ expectations, there is a strong possibility that Taiwanese family immigration would lead to a problem on the identity issue for the next generation. The Benefits of Bilingual Education Ã Ã Ã Ã After clarifying that bilingual education creates no harm to children, many researchers pointed out that bilingual education can enhance the development of childrenÃ¢â¬â¢s cognitive and social skills (Chan, 2003; Garcia, 2007; Norbert, 2005; Steward, 2004; Thomas, 2003). Chan (2003) compared 31 bilingual preschoolers and 29 monolingual preschoolersÃ¢â¬â¢ performance on 3 cognitive tasks and 4 theory-of-mind tasks. The results showed that the advantage of the bilingual learners in the theory-of-mind development hinges mostly in their cognitive development e.g., inhibitory control, reasoning and metalinguistic awareness. Garcia (2007) quoted the research of Peal and LambertÃ¢â¬â¢s work with French and English bilinguals and English monolinguals and suggested that the intellectual experience of acquiring two languages contributed advantageously to mental flexibility, superior concept formation and a generally diversified set of mental abilities. She also cited PadillaÃ¢â¬â¢s reasoning that bilinguals are cognitively advanced because they are able to process information provided in one language and produce allied information in another language. Padilla used Keats and KeatsÃ¢â¬â¢ report of a study as an example which German-English bilinguals, who did not demonstrate the ability to conserve weight in a Piagetian task, were trained to conserve in one of the two languages. Results from English and German post tests indicated that the concept was acquired in both languages. This suggests the possible increased in the flexibility of bilinguals during conceptual acquisition. Steward (2004) cited the finding of Willig who pointed out that students in the bilingual programs scored either the same or higher on the achievement tests in both languages in comparison with children in monolingual education. Steward also agreed with Cummings, Hakuta and GoldÃ¢â¬â¢s opinion that the bilingual program has increased childrenÃ¢â¬â¢s cognitive flexibility. Thomas (2003) further stated that the cognitive stimulus from the bilingual program led to enhanced creativity and analytical thinking. He also presented the result taken from Houston in 2002 that native English speakers, who had been in the two way dual-language programs for four years, scored between 63rd and 70th percentiles in total reading scores in the Stanford 9 whereas the scores of students in the monolingual English program hovered around the 50th percentile. This is a remarkable finding that could be used to infer that if Taiwanese children, who are native Chinese speakers, are educated in a bilingual program since preschool their intellectual capability might surpass students in a Chinese only program after four years. After reading all the benefits that bilingual education can bring to students, I continued to research for the definition of bilingual education and its best practice. The Best Bilingual Education Dual Language Education Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Barrera (2004) defines bilingual education as using two languages to learn. Schambach (2006) said a bilingual person means he can use two languages freely in any given situation. In terms of the best practice for bilingual education, Garcia (2007) pointed out that in teaching two languages, it would be best to separate them instead of combining them together. For example, at home each parent should speak a different language to the child and at school, different teachers should speak different languages. Children tend to learn the language in order to communicate. Norbert (2005) further strengthened the importance of separating two languages when teaching. Scofield (2007) specifically talked about the importance of a relaxed environment that is enriched with comprehensible language as well as the usage of gestures, mime, and real objects to illustrate speech and to provide input. He also suggested singing songs and rhymes and having group activities to create a conducive environment for the learners. In terms of time allocation for teaching each language, Steward (2004) cited WilligÃ¢â¬â¢s research result which showed that students in the alternate immersion program, wherein the day is divided into two halves each entirely in one language, have the best performance in the tests of both languages. This kind of program is also called dual language program. Current Situation of Dual Language Education Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã According to Barrera (2004), there are more than 270 dual language programs in the U.S. and the interest in these programs keeps growing as fast as the waiting lists. In BarreraÃ¢â¬â¢s research, she concluded that the most successful dual language program resulted when students learn one language in the morning and another one in the afternoon. There must also be a continuing non-repetitive lesson in the morning. In the succeeding morning, students must proceed to the next lesson in the other language. The important characteristics of a good dual language program as suggested by Barrera includes: a minimum of six years instruction; a focus on the core academic curriculum; high quality language arts instruction in both languages; integration of the languages into the instructional thematic units; separations of the two languages for instruction with no translation and no repeated lessons in the other language; use of each language in 50 percent of the instructional time; an addictive e.g. adding a new language at no cost to studentsÃ¢â¬â¢ first language; bilingual environment that has the full support of school administrators, teachers and parents; and an active parent-school partnerships. Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã However, regardless of all the benefits of dual lingual education as shown in the research, some politicians in California still think that English should be the one and only dominated language in United States. Hence, they brought up Proposition 227 to replace the bilingual and dual lingual education to total immersion method to help immigrant children learn English as fast as possible. Nevertheless, many researchers discovered that bilingual education has helped children learn English faster than the total immersion method (Krashen, 2005; Manyak, 2006; Monzo, 2005; Olson, 2007). Bilingual education has likewise helped students build more positive self identity by providing a sheltered learning environment (Monzo). Recommendation Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã After learning from the studies conducted by some researchers, the Taiwanese government must reexamine their educational policy that resulted in the total ban of bilingual kindergarten education in Taiwan. I recommend that the Taiwanese government conduct an empirical study on the possible effects of dual language kindergarten education in Taiwan and recruit volunteer participants to determine if the Chinese and English bilingual kindergarten education should be reopened as an educational option for Taiwanese children. Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã I would also like to suggest a research design which includes the preparation of the curriculum, teachersÃ¢â¬â¢ preparation, studentsÃ¢â¬â¢ selections and studentsÃ¢â¬â¢ evaluation. Curriculum Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Prior to conducting a research, the Education Ministry of Taiwan must initially design a Chinese and English dual lingual curriculum for kindergarten pupils. The easiest and most efficient way is to translate the current kindergarten curriculum into English. In this method, the traditional Taiwanese values are neither changed nor altered and the English language was only used as a medium of instruction. This consistent and continuing curriculum, which is part of the current dual language program, has been proven to be the most beneficial way for studentsÃ¢â¬â¢ learning. Teacher Preparation Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Secondly, the government must prepare all the teachers who will be involved in teaching the dual language program. The selection of teachers who would teach the Chinese curriculum is not as difficult as selecting teachers who could teach the English curriculum. For the Chinese curriculum, experienced teachers can be selected among a roster of kindergarten teachers. Since the current law forbids the hiring of non-Taiwanese citizens, it would not be easy to immediately hire English instructors. There may be few Taiwanese people who could teach using the English fluently, have a solid background in early childhood education and fully understand the Taiwanese culture. Since learning the language while keeping the Taiwanese cultural background are two major purposes of the dual language program, I would suggest to the Ministry of Education in Taiwan to hire Taiwanese Americans or Taiwanese people who have studied abroad for a long enough period of time and have attained a good level of English fluency. The qualification to become a kindergarten teacher in Taiwan should not be based on the nationality but on the teacherÃ¢â¬â¢s English capability and understanding of Taiwanese culture. With regards to having a solid knowledge on the background of kindergarten education, I believe that teachers can be prepared within few months of extensive workshops as I became a primary teacher at an award winning independent primary school in Connecticut after a week of intensive training and continuing professional development throughout the school year. In my job, I performed well as a foreign teacher. Through experience, I personally felt that it is possible to prepare any teacher for the background knowledge. Further research on this issue could be conducted to be assured that only the most qualified teachers are selected for the program. StudentsÃ¢â¬â¢ Selection and Follow-Up Plan Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Participating pupils should be voluntary and the opportunity to be a participant should be well broadcasted to all the parents who have children who are about to be enrolled in kindergarten schools. Students should be chosen from families of a mixed social economic status to represent the common student population in public kindergarten schools. Plans must be undertaken for students who are currently attending kindergarten so a continuing dual lingual elementary education can be achieved until the fifth grade as suggested by Garcia. Garcia discovered that the positive effects of dual language education will be manifested after 6 years of continuous education. The greatest challenge here is that all dual lingual elementary schools in Taiwan are private schools and therefore the tuition fees are not affordable by every family. For this problem, the government could either give vouchers or subsidize the tuition fees of the children who have attended the dual lingual kindergarten so they could study in private dual lingual elementary schools. In addition, the government can also put an effort to open a public dual language elementary school in each grade level to accommodate the education needs of these students. Data Analysis Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã StudentsÃ¢â¬â¢ cognitive development and academic performance will be assessed through standardized testing and observation from teachers and parents. Data analysis will focus on the findings to determine if advance cognitive development and better academic performance were achieved by students who were given the dual language program in comparison with the dual language studentsÃ¢â¬â¢ performance in the United States and Canada as studied by Barrera (2004) and Chan (2004). To avoid overstressing students, the test will be carefully designed and will be taken semi-annually. Likewise, studentsÃ¢â¬â¢ progress will be recorded for six years. Conclusions Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Education is the best investment for the future of a country. With the influx of globalization and stiff economic and business competition, it is time for people of Taiwan to be armed with an education that could be comparable not only to their neighboring Asian countries but also to the western countries as well. Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã The progress of the country highly depends on its young citizens and the best way for the young citizens to be competitive is by providing them with an educational tool that will enable them to communicate with other people across the globe. English has been considered as the universal language in many parts of the world. There are no negative effects in learning a foreign language as shown in many research studies. Hence, it is time for the government of Taiwan, specifically the Ministry of Education, to study their policies and reconsider the option of reopening bilingual kindergarten schools in Taiwan. If the government intends to be the educational leader in Asia, it is time to open their doors to accept the teaching of English in preschool level. References Barrera, R., et. al. (2004). Profiles in culture. Scholastic Early Childhood Today, 19(3), 46-48. Chan, K. T. (2004). Chinese English bilingualÃ¢â¬â¢s theory-of-mind development. 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