In this chapter, the provision of bilingual education to Hispanic students in the U.S. will be explored from conceptual and empirical perspectives. More specifically, the key theoretical concepts underlying bilingual education programs and secondary language acquisition will be discussed. The examination of these concepts offers the premises underlying the idealized conception of bilingual education, which can be used as a baseline for comparison with the actual reality. The reasons underlying the ineffectiveness of many bilingual education programs will also be explored. At the same time, the characteristics of bilingual education programs that have been effective will also be presented and discussed.
Furthermore, the characteristics of Hispanic students in American schools will also be identified to illuminate their distinctive learning needs and styles. Because of their socio-demographic status, their language difference and their cultural values, Hispanic students have specific learning needs that differ from their counterparts in other groups. This section will thus explain why traditional teaching approaches that have been used to teach students from mainstream American cultures are not the most appropriate for Hispanic students.
Finally, the provision of appropriate second language instruction for Hispanic students is examined. Using Krashen's (1994) theory of comprehensive input as a springboard, this discussion will explain the inadequacies of traditional language instruction approaches. Furthermore, alternative instructional approaches for second language instruction will also be proposed.
One of the three different types of English-Language Assistance (ELA) programs offered to students with limited English proficiency, bilingual education entails the use of both the native and English languages in instruction (Mora, 2000). Bilingual education is based on Jim Cummins' (1994) theory of the "Common Unde...