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Rosalie Porter, Forked Tongue. (Basic Books, 1990)

From Subject
MORALESC@ACFcluster.NYU.EDU  COMMENTS: Rosalie Porter (Morales)
"marilyn hurtado" <mvhurta@ilstu.edu> ) Review: Forked Tongue (Hurtado)
"james otterstein" <jrotter@ilstu.edu> Review of FORKED TONGUE (Otterstein)
David Kershaw <dckersh@odin.cmp.ilstu.edu> Mask of Benevolence & Forked Tongue (Kershaw)
Gary Klass <gmklass@ilstu.edu> Forked Tongue ( Kari Didricksen)
Mary Moran <mcmoran@ilstu.edu> Forked Tongue:(Moran)
Scott Berends <swberen@ilstu.edu> Re: Forked Tongue: The Politics of Bilingual language
Matthew Schueman <mrschue@ilstu.edu> Forked Tongue (Matthew Schueman)

Date: Wed, 27 Apr 1994 11:18:22 -0500
From: MORALESC@ACFcluster.NYU.EDU (by way of gmklass@ilstu.edu (Gary Klass))
Subject: COMMENTS: Rosalie Porter (Morales)

EDUCATION by Carolyn Morales, New York University

Porter takes on a monumental task when she discusses not only the history
of the bilingual education movement, but also the different types of
bilingual programs and their success and failures. She includes other
countries as well as the United States. Besides this she has a definite
personal viewpoint on what should happen and how bilingual education
needs to be changed. Many of the points she makes are valid, and she goes
to great lengths to provide evidence to back up her claims; however, what
Porter proposes would take a virtual miracle to accomplish.

Her stand on abolishing Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) has
caused her a lot of grief and this is to be expected when anyone tries
to fight the establishment. Whether it is right or wrong, she's still
going to take the heat for saying it. As Porter states, the considerations
about where the money goes and who gets it is politically and economically
motivated. This situation is also true in Puerto Rico where bilingual
programs provide assistance to Puerto Ricans returning from the United
States with poor Spanish skills.

In Puerto Rico, the language situation is reversed. Spanish is the main
or first language and English is taught as a second language. Officially
however, both languages are recognized as equal. A few years ago, Spanish was
declared the official language and English was abandoned. Then, when the
present government took over, English was re-instated to official status
along with Spanish. Language has been the source of debate in Puerto Rico
for many years, and bilingual programs are affected as the controversy
continues. As Porter states in the last chapter of her book, it's time for
government to put other considerations aside and begin thinking about what
will benefit the students, what their needs are and what will be the best
way to meet those needs. In this respect, I agree with her completely.

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Date: Fri, 17 Feb 1995 14:25:05 -0600
From: "marilyn hurtado" <mvhurta@ilstu.edu> )
Subject: Review: Forked Tongue (Hurtado)

Review of Rosalie Porter, Forked Tongue.
(Basic Book, 1990)

Reviewed By:
Marilyn Hurtado
Illinois State University
February 16, 1995

Bilingual education in the United States of America is becoming
increasingly controversial among politicians, educators, language-minority
families, and interests groups and organizations. Rosalie Porter is only
one of many who debate the bilingual education system. The question needed
to be answered is, "Should language-minority students be allowed to speak
and learn in their native tongue, or should they adopt the English
language?" It seems that there is no definite or clear-cut answer. The
government and educators must look at a number of variables that involve
the bilingual education system. The solution will not satisfy everyone, but
it can be broad enough to affect the majority. What needs to be focused is
the majority of language-minority students who comprise in these various
programs of the bilingual education system.
Porter lacks to recognize pragmatic situations in the United States.
Her initial response is to
validate research from an unlikely representation of the language-minority
students in the United States. This review has explored a myriad of
statements raised by Porter, yet she does not solidify any
solutions.Porters' main argument or thesis is to implement English language
instruction in the United States. First, to support her argument she
aggregates research studies formulated in Massachusettes' school districts
and does not acknowledge the variation throughout the country. Second,
Porter provides historical comparisons from multiple countries to assess
her belief that a complete immersion of English language will result in the
equal outcome of countries like West Germany, the former Soviet Union, and
Sweden. Even though she points out in only one sentence that there are
substantial differences in the education systems and government between
these countries, she makes a blatent avoidance that these two differences
are major factors on why their bilingual or multilingual education system
has been successful. Whether Porter has intentionally or accidentally
forgotten these acknowledgments is clearly unreliable. To simplify her
comparison or example of other countries would be to illustrate an
exaggerated one. For instance, ordering a chef salad without lettuce and
Porter again discusses a study in 1988 consisting of parents from
Asian and several Spanish-speaking backgrounds that contradict her argument
of external survey conclusions. Even though she argues,"...not to make
assumptions based solely on broad external survey conclusion."(p.124)there's
a flipside were she puts forth documentation from narrow and
limited surveys.
Porter's section regarding parents and their influence
are important factors often ignored in deciding what types of programs to
implement. Demographics also plays a major role in state-funding and should
be decided within each community what type of program to utilize. For
example, depending upon the situation of the family, a child visiting the United
States with educational intentions of learning English will use a different
program than an immigrant child combating obstacles in everyday life such
as adjusting to a new country,culture, and way of life. In addition, a poor
and criminally infested community such as inner city ghettos.These are two
opposite situations, but they are very realistic and they do occur. Porter
has four basic points stating why the U.S. should not use a bilingual
program such as TBE. These reasons seem valid, but unsupported by reliable
sources:(1) Basic goal is to teach English language skills to fit into
environment;(2) Segregation of language-minority students;(3) Absence of
effective teachers for different language representatives in
school;(4) Failure to develop English skills for non-manuel labor jobs.
Porter tends to base her conclusions from surveys in New England
states, such as Massachusets where the influx of immigrants is vastly
different from that of California or Texas. Throughout the book there were
sincere points advocating English programs, but they didn't seem
academically sufficient in terms of facts and ideas for expansion. Porters'
question, "Is the maintenance of family cultures to be a mandated
responsibility of the public schools?" is answered "No." But let us not
forget that we are debating for language cohesiveness and complementation,
not cultural implementation in our education system.Porter has clear goals
to implement English institution use, but most of her steps to achieving
these goals are not supported with adequate documentation. Most of her
points to promoting English instruction are parallel with the opposition.
Marilyn Hurtado
Political Science Dept.
Illinois State University

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Date: Tue, 21 Feb 1995 16:45:48 -0600
From: "james otterstein" <jrotter@ilstu.edu>
Subject: Review of FORKED TONGUE (Otterstein)

Rosalie Porter, FORKED TONGUE (Basic Book, 1990)

Reviewed by:
James Otterstein
Illinois State University
Feb. 21, 1995

Should America's public schools teach children of Spanish-speaking
immigrants (and children of illegal aliens too) subject matter in the
English language, or should they be taught in (and by) their native
tongue? More importantly, does assimilation into America's mainstream
require that one language be subordinate to another? These questions, and
many more, are central to the debate surrounding bilingual education in the
United States.

The bilingual debate has generated a great deal of controversy among
educators, minority leaders, and politicians. Those on the right advocate
a normative approach, claiming that English should be adopted and
recognized (i.e. English Language Amendment) as the official national
language of the United States. The left, on the other hand, base their
arguments on pragmatic and constitutional grounds: language-minority
students perform better (academically) when taught in their native tongue
and the First Amendment protects the language, culture, and values of an
ethnic group. Hence, public schools should teach language-minority
students in their native tongue. The divisions exposed by this issue are
the centerpeice of Rosalie Porter's FORKED TONGUE.

Throughout FORKED TONGUE,Porter outlines and describes this
controversial issue through her personal and professional experiences.
These experiences lead Porter to believe that the entrenched bilingual
bureaucracy is at the root of this language controversy. She holds this
belief because her experiences have demonstrated that the bureaucracy's
policies have chosen to place political ideology and self interest ahead of
effective education. These policies, according to Porter, are the products
of self-centered educators, ethnic leaders, lawyers, and policians whom are
out of touch with not only reality, but also with their constiuents. For
instance, it was assumed that support for increased bilingual education
gained its greatest momentum from Spanish-speaking citizens. Yet as the
issue developed, Porter notes that the level of support from this group has
dramatically dropped. Oddly enough, the bilingual bureaucracy continues to
operate according to the status quo.

To educate her readers on the bilingual debate, Porter provides an
historical account of America's cultural revolution. This "revolution" was
characteristic of a general movement toward individual and cultural
recognition. Accordingly, the term "assimilation" became a "dirty word".
Group rhetoric such as "Black is beautiful"; "Kiss me, I'm Italian";and
"I'm Polish and proud" emerged as an "ethinic" revival. This revival in
turn, generated an intense focus on race and rights; ethnic groups began to
claim that teaching students in their native tongues was not only the right
thing to do, but also a constitutional right (i.e. First Amendment). More
importantly,these cries were kept alive by the upper class "intellectual
romatics";those individuals favoring cultural maintenance via native
tongue instruction.

In (a broad) response to this movement,the federal government responded
by enacting Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Next the
Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) program was established. TBE was
composed of primarily teaching language minority students in their native
tongue, with English language lessons gradually implemented into the
instruction. This approach allowed students to learn subject matter while
simultaneously making the transition to English. Then the federal
government reaffirmed its commitment to bilingual eduation with the
passages of the "Bilingual Education Act of the 1968 Elementary and
Secondary Education Act." To further buttress their position, the Supreme
Court in Lau v. Nicoles (1974) held that public schools were "obligated to
remove laguage barriers." Although the federal government's actions were
well-intentioned toward improving race relations within America, Porter
suggests they actually created unforseen and negative societal results.

One unexpected result was the birth of an "ethnic revival." This
revival, according to Porter,actually produced more harm than good. She
contends this movement hardened existing ethnic boundares, thereby,
inhibiting equal accesss to societal opportunities. For example, in 1953
the term "ethnic" referred to group membership with shared customs and
values. But in the 1990s ethnicity has taken on an entirely different
meaning. It now refers to by "self-selected segregation": an individual's
choice to be closely related to an ethinic group (171). This movement is
quite different from what immigrants historically endured. Traditionally
language-minority groups had sacrificed aspects of their ethnicity
(i.e.language) to gain economic development and societal advancement.
However today this is no longer the case: ethnicity is currently regarded
as a "set of strategies for acquiring resources" (e.g. the controversy in
Quebec, Canada).

Porter argues this maintenance of strict ethnic boundaries actually
reinforces existing inequalities, by mandating re-segreation and cultural
divisions (e.g. [some] ethnic groups pursue assimilation (Asians) while
others choose to remain separate (Hispanics). And this is the main problem
with bilingual education in the U.S.: it chooses to maintain an
unsuccessful system without considering any alternative programs. Instead
of pursuing an appropriate agenda, America continues to yield
counterproductive results by rewarding the "idealization of cultural
pluralism." Consequently, some minority groups place the retention of their
native language ahead of group advancement. This strategy, according to
Porter, is used to gain economic and political power. Hence, those
minority groups who demand the retention of "my culture and my language"
are actually creating their own road blocks to success (e.g. deminishing
the democratic rights of equal access in the areas of education, housing,
and various other social institutions).

Which party does this strategy benefit: group leaders or the group as a
whole? Porter claims it serves the interests of the leaders, whom
ironically enough, speak English more fluently than Spanish. These
individuals preach native tongue maintenance to keep the masses down, not
to elevate them into the mainstream. If group leaders were interested in the
welfare of their constituents, Porter suggests they would advocate English
language instruction.

Porter finds support for her point in the results of her
cross-national, bilingual program analyses. This analyses compared the
bilingual program of the U.S. with other industrialized nations. She
discoverd that programs in West Germany, the (former) Soviet Union, Sweden,
Canada, and the U.S. had at least two common characteristics. First, every
country preferred to bring language-minorities into the mainstream via
teaching the official national language. And secondly, all were supportive
of native tongue instruction. Of the four countries investigated, Porter
favored the Canadian "total immersion" (immersion into another language)
program for two related-reasons.

First, the results reinforced Porter's belief that instructing students
only in their native tongue is the wrong approach. Group leaders and policy
experts claim that native tongue instruction is the most (academically)
appropriate method for educating language-minority students; both the
"vernacular advantage theory" and "linguistic interdependence hypothesis"
suggest that native tongue instruction produces the best scholastic
aptitude. The results from the Canadian experience demonstrates that the
opposite is true: total immersion yields the best results because "students
are capable of learning subjects (even math, science, etc.) taught in
another language." And secondly, the Canadians verified countless U.S.
studies which exposed the following misconceptions about native tongue
instruction: "levels of self-pride" among language-minority students did
not increase with more native tongue instruction; those exposed to more
hours of native tongue instruction did not outperform those with less
exposure; and finally, no evidence existed to confirm the notion that
students can only learn new "concepts taught in their native tongue."
Therefore, Porter favors teaching language-minority students in the English
language via a "total immersion" approach.

Porter wraps up her work by offering many possible reforms for the U.S.
bilingual program. These "core" reforms are as follows: teaching English
language at the earliest age possible, with total integration among the
student body and without any native tongue instruction provided during
regular school hours; additional help available for those language minority
students who are falling behind in their language development; flexible
programs geared toward specific student needs; and an emphasis on the
quality of bilingual teachers. Additionally, Porter favors reforming
America's inadequate foreign language programs, supports the creation of
magnet "language academies",and calls for an increased level of public
awareness regarding bilingual education.

I enjoyed Porter's book because of her incite and detailed personal
accounts of the volatile field of bilingual education. Her cross-national,
bilingual program analyses was very interesting, insightful, and
convincing. However,the evidence presented by both sides of the issue
appeared to suffer from the same flaws: the empirical studies (1) failed to
recognize the overall intellegence level of the students and (2) they also
failed to account for different levels of language-development among
students. Although Porter recognizes these concerns, she continues to
maintain that the path to language proficiency is achieved through practice.

Furthermore, her findings supported my own personal beliefs related to
human and societal development. I am a proponent of the establishment of an
official language, but do not support the elimination of "subordinate"
languages. Languages can and do coexist, however, one must be slated as the
proverbial chosen language. And since the established language of the U.S.
is English, it should be the dominate tongue. Although this point of view
might be considered ethnocentric, so be it. To participate in society, much
like a sporting event, you must play by the rules. I do not consider the
subordination of one language in favor of another an example of "unfair"
play, especially when individuals are given the opportunity to learn the
rules of the game. However, if prospective "players" are denied this
opportunity, then changes must be sought.

Nonetheless, Porter's conclusions generated a number of interrelated
questions: such as why the U.S., with it's diverse "culture" refuses to
mandate (or strongly suggest) a second language for public schools. With
the hype (and reality) of the global economy, it would seem logical (for
competition-related reasons) to require school children to learn another
language. Of course, the term logical and government action (at times)
resembles the combination of oil and water. This point is clearly
demonstrated by Porter's characterization of the bilingual bureaucracy.
Unfortunately her criticisms are far too applicable to many other
governmental agencies. But the entire blame should not be placed on
the shoulders of bureaucracy: public officials and private leaders are
equally responsible for the failures of America's bilingual program.

Although I enjoyed FORKED TONGUE, it is not free from critism. First,
the material could have been a bit more organized. Secondly, Porter
refused to take an absolutist positione. She favored the "total immersion"
program but also supported the recognition of language-minority cultures.
Although I agree that cultural recognition is important, it becomes
problematic. Language is often related to culture, thus,recognition may
come at the expense of subordination. However, language subordination does
not necessitate language elimination.
James Otterstein
Department of Political Science

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Date: Sun, 27 Apr 1997 18:41:01 -0500
From: David Kershaw <dckersh@odin.cmp.ilstu.edu>
Subject: Mask of Benevolence & Forked Tongue (Kershaw)

Harlan Lane, MASK OF BENEVOLENCE. 1993.
Rosalie Pedalino Porter, FORKED TONGUE. Basic Books, 1990.

Review by: David Kershaw
Mailto:Luisarturo@aol.com OR dckersh@odin.cmp.ilstu.edu

As the recent controversy over Ebonics illustrates, deep rifts exist among
every group in America over which language should be taught to America's
children. Some think children should only learn their native language
(monolinguists). Others think everyone, if they do not already do so, should
learn English (bilingualists). However, division exists even over the means
through which minority language children should learn English.

Two authors represent, essentially, the pole positions on these issues;
Harlan Lane and Rosalie Porter. Lane takes the position that only a deaf
community can meet the educational and personal needs of a deaf child and
only through symbolic signing and deaf culture. Lane's seems to be writing
mainly to parents of deaf children in order to convince them of his
position. Porter believes that hearing language minorities can benefit most
in America from uninhibited learning of English. Our current bilingual
education programs are not meeting the goals that are laid out for them, she

Harlan Lane, in MASK OF BENEVOLENCE, seeks to promote the education of
prelingually deaf children through the use of deaf teachers and American
Sign Language. Lane opposes the futile attempts to teach these children to
read lips or speak and get by as a hearing person in the hearing world. To
promote his vision and ingrain in the reader the belief in the superior
nature of that vision, he attempts to show the greatness of deaf culture and
the inescapable harshness of hearing culture's interaction with deaf culture.

>From the beginning of the book to its conclusion, Lane focuses on the
historical treatment of deaf people. What he finds is a repeated negative
characterization of deafness. Deaf people were stigmatized, he argues,
physically, characterlogically, and tribally (p. 7). They were seen as
isolated, empty, deviants, unintelligent, and clannish, among others.
However, most importantly, they were seen as infirmed. This characterization
caused and still causes the most damage, Lane argues, because it holds with
it the expectation that the deaf will never be as completely "able" as a
hearing person. The result is accommodation and sympathy, but never the
opportunity for the deaf to reach their full potential. They were serviced
as dependents, not treated as equals. One consequence of these beliefs has
been the over institutionalization of deaf children as deficient and
mentally incontinent, he notes.

A poignant example of this mentality manifests itself in the education
institution's treatment of deaf children. The constant theme in deaf
children's' educational programs has been hearing teachers teaching
(mostly, or in part, in integrated environments) either in only the native
language or a transition from sign language to the native language or a new
native language variation sign language. Lane notes that educational
conferences from the 1800's, the Paris Exposition of 1878 and the Congress
of Milan of 1880, were particularly devastating (p. 113-115). These
congresses brought together hearing education administrators, excluded all
deaf participants, and flamed the fires of oral fanaticism; "Oral speech is
the sole power that can rekindle the light God breathed into man." (p. 114).
The conclusions reached were in favor of oral speech and against all manual

Lane is appalled by these events. However, even though time has passed, he
notes that some of the treatment has changed, much of it has not. He blames
this fact on the extrapolative leap, ethnocentrism, the economic incentives
of the "audist institution," and the lack of recognition of deafness as a
legitimate culture (the three are not completely distinct).

The extrapolative leap occurs when a hearing person comes in contact with a
deaf person and inevitably asks the question, "what must it be like being
deaf." Lane believes that the result is an interpretation that leaves the
person who makes the leap believing the person is lonely, alienated, and
somehow lacking in fullness. Lane argues that one cannot truly understand
what it is like to be deaf, especially through those means. In fact, he
argues the leap creates incorrect views about deaf people and ultimately
educational barriers that keep deaf people from reaching their potential and
deaf children from learning deaf culture. It is this deaf culture whose
existence and superiority he seeks to establish (with the ultimate goal
deaf for deaf education).

Lane's arguments for deaf separate education rely on the establishment of a
unique deaf culture. He does this in part by noting how the past treatment
of deaf people parallels those of Africa who suffered under colonization.
His main avenue is through comparison of negative attributions in historical
literature. As a result of not recognizing deaf and African cultures as
different cultures, some of their characteristics were misinterpreted and
the deaf and Africans were labeled inferior. For example, both cultures had
been characterized unintelligent, childlike, impulsive, and emotional (or
emotionally disturbed). They were both associated with negative social,
cognitive, behavioral, and emotional characteristics. As a result, in
coordination with hearing people believing in the superiority of their
culture (ethnocentrism), the dominate culture sought to impose on these
cultures a cure, or at least the means to help these groups behave more
"civil," according to Lane.

To further prove the existence of deaf culture, Lane notes as evidence that
deaf people often only marry their own, that they have their own language,
that they have their own arts, that they have unique traits (such as story
telling, touching, visual attentiveness, viewing a deaf child as a gift,
mutual aid, and group decision making), that they have their own rules ( for
name-giving, polite discourse, etc.), and that they are ethnocentric against
hearing people (p. 18). These characteristics, Lane argues, differentiate
deafness as a culture. It is here that Lane attempts to suggest the
superiority of deaf culture by implying that hearing culture lacks these
characteristics when applied to deaf children. He also attempts to prove the
superiority of deaf culture by demeaning hearing culture, "theater of the
deaf calls attention to some of the more laughable features of hearing
people's behavior: our endless conversations on the telephone, our acute
fear of being touched, our visual inattentiveness, our frigid face" (p. 17).

The establishment of deafness as a culture is important for Lane. Since he
believes that deaf children can gain the most education and personal growth
from American Sign Language and deaf teachers (he assumes they can provide
language fluency, shared experiences, role modeling, and greater caring,
without internalizing negative self identification in the children; while
hearing teachers cannot), the most effective way to promote his goal is to
have deafness recognized as a separate, historically discriminated against
culture. If this occurs, the government would be forced to provide some of
the protections guaranteed to other historically discriminated against
minorities. Specifically, he seeks to gain recognition by the government for
bilingual education enforcement for deaf children.

Under the current educational system, Lane argues, deaf children lose
precious time trying to become oral speakers. The end result is children who
have not learned any language sufficiently and are behind hearing children
in academic advancement, as well as in developing social skills. To further
his call for separate deaf culture education, he makes the allegation that
this culture is so foreign to hearing individuals that they can never fully
understand it, teach it, or give the emotional support a deaf child needs.
In fact, hearing parents are victims of those who mislead them into the
dependency/infirmity model and into the belief that they can give the child
all the help they need.

To drum up further support for his position, Lane attempts to vilify what he
calls the "audist institution." He alleges that their only motivation is to
maintain the economic benefits they receive. He points out that the research
being done, that is focused on as credible, comes mainly from big corporate
interests, and that alternative theories and studies are rarely done or
acknowledged in policy making. The advice that is followed is that which is
given by companies that seek to have deaf people as economic dependents.

This dependency/infirmity model has now taken root in the attempt by science
to give deaf people the ability to hear through technological means, Lane
states to his dismay. Still being driven by misperceptions and economic
greed, audists (those who stress the overwhelming need for speech and
hearing) have gone to the point of using surgery and Cochlear implants to
generate some levels of electronic sound. This has gone too far, according
to Lane. First, although it may benefit some post-lingually deaf
individuals, pre-lingually deaf individuals will make little progress.
Furthermore, the process will create a dependency on hospitals (need to fix
implants when they wear out), cause lots of pain, internalize in these
individuals the view that they are abnormal, and take time away from
productive education in order to possibly generate some speech and hearing

Lane's perfect world is represented by the Gallaudet "Revolution." The
situation was one where students protested the selection of a hearing
candidate over two highly qualified deaf candidates because, allegedly, the
board thought deaf people incapable of functioning in the real world. The
students demanded the appointee's replacement, and majority placement of
deaf executives on the board of the school. For Lane, this marked the
movement toward separate and self administration and empowerment.

The importance of Lane's arguments is in finding the best way to meet the
needs and desires of pre-lingually deaf children. For Lane, it appears that
the ultimate and only goal of all deaf children is education, social
relationships, and learning their deaf culture. He rightfully notes that for
many, our current approach to education does not always work. Therefore, he
presents an important alternative that should not be ignored.

However, the weakness of Lane's approach lies in some of the assumptions he
makes. It is factually wrong to identify (implicitly) certain
characteristics as pertaining only to deaf culture. For example, there are
many hearing parents who view their deaf children as gifts, hearing people
often give mutual aid, and hearing people do not all loath being touched.
Being deafcentric only makes his arguments look hypocritical (although
understandable as a historical consequence).

Second, his allegations that hearing people cannot fully understand being
deaf or decide what is the right policy for deaf people, raises the question
of how can he, as a hearing person, come to know so much about deaf culture
and deaf people's wants that he can write a book about them while others
could not. The argument that groups are so different that a member of one
group cannot meet the needs of another is preposterous. It assumes
completely separate needs and experiences between groups, homogeneity in
cultural groups, and almost a biological transference of culture, none of
which are true. This does not suggest that deaf children should not learn
about deaf culture or the stigmas attached to them by many.

Third, Lane's allegation about the audist establishment's money motivation
could easily be turned on the deafists. If there is so much money to be
made, why should we assume that deafists are not also motivated by greed.
This argument does not forward the deaf child's cause very much.

Fourth, Lane wants to encourage participation of deaf people in the issues
that affect them; self-determination. However, Lane engages the oralists in
such a demeaning way that it seems he would refuse deaf children and parents
of deaf children the right to select the approach that suits their desires
best. Through the book, he demeans all other approaches and negatively
stereotypes the motives of these individuals and basically engages, as K. A.
Appiah would argue, in "the tyranny of racial expectation." Lane would force
one identity out of many on deaf individuals.

Finally, although Lane may have some legitimate concerns for ear implants
that hardly increase functionality in deaf children, his arguments become
weakened when he tries to argue that deaf culture should be preserved and
deaf implants not used even if they could work in prelingually deaf
children. Such a result would take away the rights of the parents and child
to self-determine the childs identity. It also fails to account for the fact
that deaf culture was necessarily created in response to discrimination and
the inability to achieve certain levels of interaction in hearing culture.
If the barriers that created the culture disappear, what are the practical
consequences of trying to keep it alive? What are the moral obligations
under these auspices? What comparative disadvantages would you be forcing on

Rosalie Pedalino Porter takes a different perspective on minority language
teaching in FORKED TONGUE. Porter, unlike Lane, is discussing one of the
traditional minority languages identified by Title VII, the Bilingual
Education Act of the 1968 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (p. 3).

Porter drew on her years as a bilingual educator and a student of
educational methods to come to the conclusion that the current bilingual
education was not meeting the objectives of the Bilingual Education Act:
teaching minority language children English and teaching them the material.
In fact, she noticed problems in education beyond flaws in the program

The style of bilingual education being taught was that of Transitional
Bilingual Education (TBE). TBE sought to move a minority language student
from initial predominance of teaching in their native language to a
predominance of teaching in English. Furthermore, the types of material
taught in English would increase in volume as well as complexity. The
premises of TBE were: 1) that learning their first language well can help
them earn a second language more successfully (that language skills are
easily transferable), 2) students who are taught subjects in their native
language will not fall behind, 3) learning a second language before
mastering the first could result in semilingualism (p. 60), and 4) complex
reasoning takes longer to develop in a second language. It is these
assumptions, built into the program, that are flawed and are the reason for
the failure of bilingual education in meeting its goals.

FORKED TONGUE reexamines some of the data that was the basis for these
assumptions and other data that can be taken as evidence against these
assumptions. The studies that are most quoted favoring native language
teaching before second language teaching, according to Porter, were those by
Skutnabb-Kangas and Toukomaa. However, after peer review, these works have
been discredited as invalid based on biased data and opinionated
conclusions. Thus, our acceptance may have been premature.

She also cites a study by Paulston (p. 61) that found learning a second
language was not related to learning their native language. Porter used a
further undermine the assumptions. This study suggested (among other
conclusions) that enrollment in the Spanish reading program generally
correlated with learning to read in English. Most children gained control of
their first language (generally) by age 5, and students who first learn to
read in English transferred skills better to Spanish than vice-versa.

PILOT PROJECT. This study randomly assigned 508 limited English students
into one of two types of programs carried out at six schools. One program
started the students' curriculum in English only, the other program in
Spanish. The results showed that there were no differences in patterns of
achievement of the students. Also, students who received only one year of
native language training scored higher on nationally recognized standardized
tests than those students had two or more years of native language
instruction. A survey of the students also suggested the non native language
program students did not show signs of emotional distress or lower
self-pride. There appeared to be no significant benefit of the native
language instruction.

Finally, she also used survey data at times to establish the faith of
administrators in particular programs and in student abilities. Although
this data is interesting in gauging program support and other impressions,
it did not add much in terms of identifying appropriate alternatives. Porter
admits some evidence also favors TBE, but she questions the methods and
conclusions. Overall, Porter calls on more empirical research into the
impacts to clarify what are the true results.

She tries to take further her position by analyzing some international
experiences. West Germany's (book was released in 1990) native language only
program does not adequately prepare the student's German language skills and
the German immersion has also not worked completely (but better than the
native language instructions). The Soviet Union, who tried to maintain
particular national languages and even subnational native languages, has its
Russian language schools surviving because learning the Russian language is
the means by which jobs are gotten. Some culture and language maintenance
has occured, but (Porter alleges) this is due to restrictive Soviet
policies. Sweden, whose researchers developed the theory of semilingualism
(no language learned effectively) and the appropriate educational response
has shown no proof of its validity in application (either way). Finally,
from Canada, she draws her greatest support, from the Quebec Francophone
requirements. Quebec's goal was increasing French speakers. To do this, in
part they carried out an immersion experiment with groups of children at
various ages. The children were taught all subjects in French (although
teachers fluent English and French). The results indicated that children who
are immersed earlier learn the best. Overall, immersed children learned
French better than traditional language class students. Also, when compared
on their English skills, the immersed students did just as well as the
traditional program students.

She notes however that a more universal acceptance of her position would
not be easy. From the outset, she encountered resistance to her theory of
effective bilingual education. First, she had bilingual education officials
try to pressure her school to not grant her her doctorate as it would
undermine bilingual education's standing. Then, after taking up a position
with the innovative Newton school and implementing a program based on her
theory, the State denied bilingual education funding to the program and
administratively harassed the school. FORKED TONGUE at times shows how
bitter Porter became with the situation.

What accounts for these reactions? According to Porter, vested economic
interest, alternative motives, and bureaucratic inertia. She argues, as
Lane does, that those who benefit from the program would seek to maintain it
at all costs (not to mention that it's easier to maintain the present course
of action). Second, she sees a less offensive motive in the desire to
maintain one's culture and diversity in general.

Constitutionally the argument can be made and is made that people have a
right to maintain their culture and language. Porter would not disagree with
this. In fact, she recognizes the difficulties people encounter (such as
divisions, emotional impacts, etc.; p. 179). However, she also sees native
language impositions in education as a potential way to maintain
discrimination (citing past South African policies). She further questions
whose role it should be to maintain these languages, and in fact, how fast
do languages disappear? Evidence she submits suggests that it takes over
four generations to disappear and language is only maintained longer by new
influxes of the population. There is also little ability, she alleges, to
bring back a dead culture. Also, the primary saver of a culture is community
itself, Porter would argue.

However, in Porter's mind there is only one obligation under the Bilingual
Education Act, to teach English and subjects. Therefore, the focus has be
led astray by faulty assumptions and culture interests. She, having compared
her experiences with others nationally and internationally, concludes that a
program that is going to teach English needs to have several criteria. These
criteria include: (near) immersion at an early age; not segregated from
majority language speakers; teaching regular school subjects, with teachers
pushing the limits of the children's abilities; promoting the acceptance of
their cultures (to have them feel at easy and included); specially trained
and competent teachers; and intensive parent interaction. Results from the
Newton program (essential the model program) show high levels of language
skills, student achievement in the regular classroom, low truancy, positive
self-images, and parental satisfaction (p. 140). Other necessary
ingredients, according to Porter, are adequate facilities, high expectations
of students, flexibility to meet the varying needs of parents and students.
Other general education suggestions she makes in order for limited English
students (and all students) to achieve their full potential include full
year schooling and actively promoting college.

Some might criticize these programs as being based solely on upper middle
class studies that would necessarily not work with lower class serving
schools. Porter would respond that this biased assumption demeans the lower
class individual abilities and could essentially work to be a
self-fulfilling prophecy.

Throughout the book Porter makes it known that she believes in economic
empowerment as a critical element of every individual, unlike Lane whose
main concern seems to be more social and educational ends; possibly
segregated economic ends. She firmly believes that in order to attain
economic or even political power, a minority language speaker must learn
English. Without it, they will be left out of high paying jobs and larger
political associations. Although, Porter, like Lane, is fairly inflexible
with what policy ought to be (as she promotes policy to be interpreted
through looking at the letter of the law). However, unlike Lane, she still
maintains respect for the alternatives. She does not demean them. She would
however like to let individuals (or parents of individuals) choose the path
for their child and not be limited only to TBE.

Although the perspectives of these authors are extremely different, they
share some similarities. Both authors seek to provide the most effective
means of achieving their desired goals. Both authors are also deeply
concerned with the welfare and education of our children. However, most
importantly, both brush over, but fail to truly emphasize the importance of
full commitment of everyone in a child's education as a prerequisite to
successful education. In fact, it might be in part the failure of
traditional educator of deaf children to fully commit to helping the child
grow that has undermined some traditional methods of deaf education (from
which Lane may be drawing erroneous conclusions).

The conflict over Ebonics raises some interesting problems. It illustrates
that Porter's views are not universally accepted. However, it also
illustrates that educators do not base their actions fully on agreed upon
facts (specifically, the failure of their assumption to be accepted that
Ebonics is accepted as a universal, offical black language). One thing is
clear, more research needs to be done on these issues, and motives should be
clearly defined.

Back to top...

Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 07:55:44 -0500
From: Gary Klass <gmklass@ilstu.edu>
To: gmklass@ilstu.edu
Subject: Forked Tongue ( Kari Didricksen)


Forked Tongue
by Rosalie Pedalino Porter
reviewed by Kari Didricksen

The 1960's was not only a chance to make love not war but was a time to
awaken to the reality of our ever changing population. The need to supply
an education to immigrant children was coming forth. It really took off in
the 70's with the implementation of a new approach, Transitional Bilingual
Education (TBE), was proposed as a solution to the problem. TBE is where
the children are instructed in their native language along with English
lessons, which gradually allows them to learn subject matter while making
the transition to English. This was a civil rights initiative to correct a
bad situation. Before this many children were not receiving the education
that they needed to succede in the United States. There are laws
protecting the right to an equal education and for funding the bilingual
education program. The main one is Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of
1964. This act prohibits the denial of an "equal education opportunity on
the basis of race, language, or national origin" (p3). "Title VII, the
Bilingual Education Act of the 1968 Elementary and Secondary Education Act
provides funding for bilingual education and sets guidelines."(p3) These
laws fueled a flame burning in some. Porter believes that these acts were
opening the doors for immigrant children and they were being shut by
advocates of TBE. Advocates of TBE wanted children taught in their native
langauge, so that the culture could be preserved. The people opening the
doors for immigrant children began to think that english-only based
teaching must be bad, and any program that could incorporate their native
language would be superior. These people, Porter believes are
well-intentioned, but were misinformed. There was no evidence to challenge
the assumption that teaching children with a combonation of english and
their native language was bad, so the TBE approach was accepted. But, this
has caused recent problems with our ever changing population. With more
immigrants coming into the United States, the more various language
backgrounds come too. How can we supply teachers and curriculum around
these various languages? We would have to have a different teacher for
each language that comes into the school. Is this a possiblity though? It
would seem that this would be costly and a ridiculous answer to a problem
we must face in bilingual education. These groups have different
priorities and are going to look to the schools for their answers.
Porter describes these problems and she says that the bilingual program is
intertwined with politics, which makes the fight for improvement hard.
Porter blames this narrow minded veiw of the bilingual education
establishment holds for the downfall of educating immigrant children.
Porter may talk about all these other ethnic groups but her main focus is
on Spanish-speaking immigrants. Porter asserts that the TBE program that
is in place has failed to its job in educating immigrant children in
English, which in turn has caused these children to fall behind from the
rest of these students. Porter states that the bilingual program is
segregation. Since the TBE students are taught in one class with no other
contact with the other students in the school. This she says is a real
problem. Students are looked at as different and can be considered
outcasts by the rest of the students. This does not make things easy on
the immigrant children. They are being discriminated against because they
speak a different language. Porter also maintains that the bilingual
program is not doing its job of teaching students english and then
integrating them into the English-speaking classrooms with the rest of the
student population. This leads to a high dropout rate of bilingual
students. The reason for this is they never reach the potential that they
could if a different program was in place. This then effects the economic
and political power of these immigrant children and their children. It is
like a snowball effect. Although one could argue that immigrants in
dealing with this subject have political power. They have fought for this
better education and are fighting to keep their communities together by
teaching these children in their native language. Porter also despises the
extreme to bilingual education, as she calls it, which is immersion. This
is the "sink or swim" method as some might say. This method is where you
throw a child into a classroom where Engkish is only spoken. No help is
given to the child and therefore the child either sinks or swims. It means
that either the child learns english or he doesn't. If he doesn't then the
child will probably dropout and that will be the end. This is what
spurred the movement of a bilingual program. It did not work then, and it
will not work now.
Porter finds English as a Seecond Language (ESL) no better than TBE.
Although both are similar, they are not. English is taught for a short
period of time, sometimes to students who know English already, and then
the rest of the day students are taught in Spanish. There are also other
forms of ESL. It depends on the school. From this we can see that Porter
is more in favor of just teaching English than Spanish. Even though Porter
asserts that schools should have a choice in which program of bilingual
education to use, she is strongly in favor of English based instruction.
My thought is that she believes Spanish should be taught in the home, and
that would be a way of preserving their culture. Because English is needed
to succede in the United States, one should be able to see this point.
Porter suggests that by teaching students Spanish mostly, they are holding
the students back from learning Spanish. Porter not only blames the
programs but also blames the recruitment of teachers. Porter states that
many bilingual teachers knew little or no English, and therefore could not
be called bilingual. She describes how at one school the bilingual
director would go to Puerto Rico and recruit teachers. Porter describes
situations in which Americans wanting to be bilingual teachers where shut
out because they are not from that ethnic group, although some of these
people were not told this up front, one could get the impression from the
various reasons given why they did not get the jobs. Porter says that the
push for native-language instruction is not coming from the parents, but
from the very politicized bilingual bureaucracy. She has found this out
from numerous parent-teacher confrences that she has done in her career as
a bilingual teacher. The most asked question by parents is " how fast will
my child learn english?". Porter gives this as evidence to why the
bilingual programs should be changed.
With all this Porter believes that there should be a choice as to which
bilingual program should be used. But, if you look at Porter's arguments
she really does not believe in choice. If schools were to choose, who
would make that choice as to which program should be implemented. How
could one know what would be right for a group of children? Each child has
different needs. Porter makes a good argument against bilingual education,
so good it blows her giving schools a choice right out of the water. One
can agree though that we do have a problem with bilingual education. Some
students are put in these programs just because their name is of Spanish
descent (or of any other ethnic background). That is an important question
in this debate. Who should go into these programs? Should parents be
given a choice between immersion or bilingual education? These and other
questions need to be answered before we can change bilingual education.

Back to top...

Date: Wed, 14 Apr 1999 07:32:06 -0500
From: Mary Moran <mcmoran@ilstu.edu>
Subject: Forked Tongue:(Moran)


Forked Tongue: The Politics of Bilingual language

" Language minority students now account for 10 percent of all American
schoolchildren, and in some school districts these children constitute 25
to 60 percent of the entire school population. Given the number of ethnic
and linguistic groups -among them, illegal and illegal immigrants: native
Americans, refugees from Southeast Asia, Iran, Afghanistan, and Central
America; and others- who make up the 145 language groups now involved in
bilingual education programs, it is only reasonable to assume that
different groups have different objectives." The growing question in
today's educational system is over the concern on how bilingual education
should be taught and by whom should it be taught. English is the primary
language spoken in the United States. What about the people who are not
originally from this country, that do not speak English as their primary
language? More importantly, what happens to the children of these
immigrants? How are they to learn English when it is not spoken in their
homes? There is also another problem when it comes to bilingual education.
Are we denying these people of their culture by forcing them into the
mainstream America that only speaks English?
Rosalie Porter felt that there was a lack of understanding when it
comes to the controversy of bilingual. This lack of understanding not only
comes from the general public, but from the educators themselves. The
author speaks from personal experience and wants the reader to be aware
that she is not a linguist specialist or a social scientist.
The book combines what the author believes as concrete local,
national, and international experiences with research to derive at a
firsthand view of the educational politics. In attempting to explain this
cultural revolution, in which all of this caught fire.

The reader needed to get an understanding of the cultural revival that
created an intense focus on race and culture. Ethnic groups believed that
it was only right to teach them in their native tongue. This was not only
morally right, but it was also constitutionally justifiable under the first

Transitional Bilingual Education was introduced into the educational system
to help solve this controversy. Transitional Bilingual Education(TBE)
"prescribed native- language instruction with English lessons gradually
added to allow the student to learn the subject matter while making the
transition to English." At this time, there was not a lot of sympathy
toward these people. They were considered mentally retarded and punished
verbally by others in society. In simple terms, they were neglected and
unwanted. Something had to be done to protect these people. The main
protection that was provided came under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights
Act. Under this act, everyone was entitled to an equal opportunity for
education no matter what race, religion, or national origin that you were.
Under TitleVII is the Bilingual Education Act, which gave the schools
funding for bilingual education programs and set up guideline that schools
were supposed to follow. The main case that set the president for school
districts was Lau v. Nichols. In this 1974, case the school districts were
made to take action concerning the problem of language barriers. This
includes prohibiting the exclusion of linguistic minority children in
public schools.
Porter believes that political agendas are forces this type of
program to take a back seat. She can't understand why the United States is
not learning from the

experiences of other educational practices demonstrated in Canada, Germany,
Sweden and England.
The idea of an ethnic revival sounds like a good idea. People
coming together to save their cultural identity, which includes their
language. The author believes quite the opposite. Porter believes that this
revival did not help these people, it only hurt them. Her ideology comes
from, the ethnic boundaries that segregate the way that these people live.
"The responsibility of the schools, charged is surely not to freeze the
home culture and language in place. " By maintaining these boundaries
cultural divisions are only strengthened. What the program promotes is the
notion that all subjects have to be taught in their native language, and
later it is supposed to be easier to move over to the English language. I
believe in the author when she says that there is no evidence to support
this theory. Personally, I cannot as a student understand why anyone would
want to learn this way. Isn't it easier to learn a second language when you
are at a young age?
There are some extreme positions that are involved in this debate. On one
side you have the conservative right that says that English is the official
language of the United States. On the left side you have the people that
believe that the First Amendment was established to preserve and protect
the family's language and values that must be embraced by school
instruction as the student's constitutional right. Then there are the
people who don't believe that we should have any kind of bilingual
education programs. There ancestors did not have any help why should this
generation have it? What makes them so special? The answer to all of this
mess is giving different communities the right to choose the most effective
approach for their children and have the government support the people with
the proper funding. The right choice by the author would be English
language instruction.
The programs that the author studied derived from Sweden, Soviet Union,
Canada and the United States. The common problem is how to bring the
language minority speaking people into the mainstream. The best answer to
this problem that the author found came from Canada's "total immersion
program". Canada proved under Porter's studies to appear that students are
capable of learning subjects in another language. Her studies also
concluded that there was no evidence to show that learning in your native
tongue raised the level of learning or that they could only learn new
concepts under their native tongue.
To concluded her book the author talks about the decisions for the future.
First she believes that there needs to be legislative changes. Changes are
needed in the funding of OBEMLA, the office that administers bilingual
funds under the U.S. Department of Education. Not only that but she
believes that OBEMLA needs to be restructured. Money should be distributed
through entitlements to all districts with limited English speaking
students. Theses changes would result from the distribution of money that
would follow census-based procedures that are used in distributing federal
refugee and immigrant funds. The author would also like to change the
freedom of choice that is allowed by the federal law which is nullified by
state mandates that are restrictive. This is not only a legislative
problem, but also a problem for implementing these types of programs. The
example that she uses comes from California and Florida. In these areas the
bilingual education lobby is so strong that little variety in program
choice is possible.
The author recommends definite changes in the educational system
that include " curricular improvements specially for limited English
speaking students, general recommendations for school restructuring,
teacher training needs, collaboration between public schools and business
associations or universities, and innovations in foreign language for
English speaking students.
I agree with the author that the most powerful factor's in a child's life
is an early learning opportunity and that the abstract concepts will come
later in life. I just don't believe in the research that she has done.
Experiences are just that. Mine can be different from someone else's. This
does not make her an expert in the field. What she should have done was to
get with a linguist specialist and work together on finding the right
research methods on which they could come up with an intelligent solution
to a difficult problem. We all must have a common language that we can
communicate, it is a shame that other cultures and values are sometimes
swept aside in the overall outlook.
Back to top...

Date: Thu, 15 Apr 1999 04:10:29 -0500
From: Scott Berends <swberen@ilstu.edu>
Subject: Re: Forked Tongue: The Politics of Bilingual language

i have several questions/comments.

1. what is OBEMLA? i realize that it is an acronym for something, but i
do not know what.

2. you mentioned in your review that "On the left side you have the people
believe that the First Amendment was established to preserve and protect
the family's language and values" i am assuming that by this you mean that
some people believe that the first amendment free speech guarantee entitles
them to learn in their native tongue (a claim i am not sure makes any sense
but i will address that next). i am curious why these people have
integrated their language and value system into the same category. in a
previous paragraph you mentioned "People coming together to save their
cultural identity, which includes their language", i am not sure that
cultural identity and language are intertwined in the way that the author
(or at least my understanding of the author, from your review) suggests.
it seems that a people's "values" and "cultural identity" would be
ontological entities seperate from their language, in fact it seems as
though the language would, at least initially, develop from the values and
cultural identity of the people themselves. if language is a way of
communicating our private thoughts to others (as Locke and some of the
other modern philosophers believed) then the thoughts (which would include
at least the value system) would preceed the language. it is possible that
the cultural identity, which by definition is a group phenomenon, could
stem from the language, but even that seems improbable, given that a
language is only a tool for expressing thoughts and values, the things that
form a cultural identity. i realize that these criticisms of Porter's book
are a bit more philosophical than perhaps Porter ever intended to get but
if her arguments, or the arguments of the advocates of bi-lingual
education, are founded on poor logic, then they are simply poor arguments
and not worthy of consideration.

3. i am not sure that the first amendment can be construed to include a
right to bi-lingual education. perhaps the case you mention in your review
answers my criticism (as the supreme court is certainly more knowledgeable
about the constitution than i) but incase it doesn't i will still offer the
criticism. the first amendment guarantees that the government will not
infringe upon a person's freedom to speak or express themselves (except
when such speech or expression is obscene or likely to instigate violence)
while this wording is neutral as to the language people will speak or
express themselves in, it is also neutral as to the language others will
speak or express themselves in. schooling is a cultural tool for the
instillment of cultural values and knowledge in youth, the language a
culture chooses to instill those values with is arbitrary, but prudence
would dictate that a culture choose the language spoken by the majority of
its members. expression of ideas is a concept wholly different from
instillment of ideas, thus while the language by which one expresses one's
self can not be regulated, the language by which one instills ideas in
another can.

4. while i realize that the supreme court has found a right to an
education, that right was found on purely utilitarian terms; education is a
way of preparing children to be good citizens nothing more. a purely
utilitarian right is no right at all, rather it is a privlige, and
privliges may be revoked or regulated at will. thus children may be
expelled from school for disciplinary reasons and other children may be
forced to learn in a language diametrically opposed to the language spoken
at home. i do not see anything wrong with this and i question the
correctness of those who are staunch advocates of bi-lingual education.

Scott Berends
Illinois State University

Back to top...

Date: Fri, 30 Apr 1999 19:33:37 -0500
From: Matthew Schueman <mrschue@ilstu.edu>
Subject: Forked Tongue (Matthew Schueman)

Porter, Rosalie Pedalino. Forked Tongue: The Politics of Bilingual
Basic Books Inc., New York: 1990

Reviewed by Matthew Schueman mrschue@ilstu.edu

The first thing Porter does in her book about bilingual education is she
establishes her background on this subject matter. The author moved to
the United States at the age of six and was sent to school without the
ability to speak English. Though it was difficult, by the time two
years had passed, the author was completely comfortable with the
language and this experience has given her a unique perspective on the
subject of bilingual education, having experienced what it is like to go
without it and have to learn English on her own. Porter began her
experience with bilingual education while she was in college. The
school she attended granted credit for students who would tutor Puerto
Rican children in a town in Massachusetts. In 1974, she began teaching
in an elementary school. She has been teaching in bilingual education
programs since that time.

In this book, Porter describes two principal types of bilingual
education programs. She first addresses the Transitional Bilingual
Education (TBE) model. "TBE requires the teaching of all school
subjects in the native language for several years, so that the students
learn subject matter while making, with gradually increased
English-language lessons, the transition from native language to
English" (Porter 16). The first fear that administrators had with this
type of program was that they feared that students would lose their
native language very rapidly. However, a study in Boston revealed that
after six to seven years of involvement in this type of program,
Hispanic students in that area did not lose their native tongue at all.
In fact, after so many years the students still had not learned enough
English to be able to participate and learn in an all English classroom
setting. Porter does not agree that this type of instruction, TBE, is
effective for minority students and she has written many papers to the
Department of Education. A school she taught in was actually audited
once by the state and found to not be in compliance with this program,
which was the preferred program of the state. The school was forced to
mold its programs to fit the TBE model. This program does not work well
for teaching the students English. Porter prefers more of an immersion
program for educating bilingual students. After all it seemed to have
worked well for her. She experienced a total immersion with no
assistance, but the type of program that Porter prefers cushions the
shock of being immersed into a new language.

In this type of program, students are almost completely immersed in
English. Subjects are taught in English and there exists assistance for
students who do not speak English very well. This form of bilingual
education produces better results than TBE and students have been shown
to learn and be able to function in this English speaking society much
quicker and with greater accuracy than results from other programs have
shown. Students who have studied abroad can understand the reason for
this best. When submersed in a new language, one learns to use it for
communication in a much truer sense then a person in a foreign language
classroom does. There is a difference between memorizing nouns and
adjectives and sentence structure and learning how to express ideas and
feelings clearly in an entirely understandable method.

Canada did an experiment with this type of bilingual education program
in the 1970's. Over 100,000 students have participated in this program
and the effects of it on the student's ability to learn a second
language and do schoolwork in that language have been well documented.
The variables in this experiment were the age of the child entering the
program and the amount of time that the classroom instruction was given
in the new language. Some classes were taught only partially in the new
language. Some classes were taught completely in the new language.
Sometimes the child would begin the program at the age of five or six.
Sometimes the child would begin the program at the age of ten to
twelve. This Canadian experiment was done with students whose native
language was French. "Over the years all the research has focused on
three considerations: (1) What are the effects of these programs in
developing children's ability in French? (2) What are the effects of
these programs on the children's academic achievement in subjects such
as science, mathematics, and history? (3) What are the effects of these
programs on children's home-language (English) skills?" (Porter 111).
The results indicated that students who participated in the early
immersion program had the best results. Their speaking and writing
skills were practically native-like while their thinking in the new
language was just as impressive. The late immersion program did not
yield quite as impressive results, but on a five point scale where five
is competency in a language equivalent to a native speaker, students
ranked at about a four. The results indicated that students in these
programs learned mathematics and computational thinking skills as well
as their native student counterparts. There was no difference in the
results of IQ testing in this area. This result is one that I would
expect since mathematics lacks cultural value and is therefore probably
among the easier things translated. It is the universal language of
science. As for the third consideration, it was found that the early
immersion children did just as well in vocabulary, reading, and writing,
and they understood what they had been taught. Since they had not
received instruction in their native language, their skills lacked a bit
in that language, but after a year of being taught to perform similarly
in their native language, the students were exceptionally bilingual.
This experiment dictates very well why Porter prefers this type of
program to Traditional Bilingual Education.

Porter spends a lot of time criticizing the politics of bilingual
education, though from her description I think this criticism is mainly
focused at politics in general. The debate that exists about the topic
of bilingual education has two sides, as most debates do. On one side
are the cultural pluralists who push for development of both languages
making sure to preserve the native language and cultures of bilingual
students. On the other side of the debate lie the melting pot diehards
who push for English as the "official" language of the United States
with little tolerance for other languages and the needs of Americans who
speak these languages. Porter falls at about the midpoint in between
these two debates. What she is concerned with is what the
responsibility of the school is and in regards to this point she is more
of a melting pot person. The native culture should be taught at the
homes, as it is a large and nearly impossible task for teachers to
remain knowledgeable on all of the cultures that are represented by
bilingual students. I would agree with her stance here. The federal
courts have laid down the responsibilities of the school's bilingual
education programs. The courts have developed three criteria for what
is to be expected from schools. "The educational theory or principles
on which the instruction is based must be sound. The proper resources
must be provided to operate the instructional programs. After a
reasonable period of time, the application of the theory must actually
overcome the English-language barriers confronting the students and must
not leave them with a substantive academic deficit" (Porter 52). These
are very broad criteria for schools to follow. This is how Porter would
have it. She feels that bilingual education programs, while still
concentrating on immersion, should be altered and fitted to suit
different communities since each community undoubtedly has unique
features to it.

Despite the walls that Porter has run into in getting her method of
education supported, she persists and still remains somewhat astonished
that the bureaucracy has not been quicker to jump on her bandwagon of
immersion. I myself am not so astonished. Porter quotes the success
rates of these programs in other countries. This is a lot of her
backbone for her argument for immersion. The fact is that the United
States does not have the best education system in the world, in fact far
from it. I believe this is partly because the United States does not
employ the "sink or swim" tactics that other countries use. In Germany,
tests taken before high school tell what students will be attending
academic institutions and what students will be attending trade
schools. These types of separative measures are used in many countries,
mostly in ones considered to have the best education systems in the
world. Obviously, if the United States will not take such harsh
measures to motivate students to learn it's general education policy, it
is not going to be very quick to implement these procedures in it's
bilingual education programs. I think it would be wrong for the country
to expect things of people from other countries that it does not expect
of it's own citizens. Isn't that discrimination?

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