Pitch for English as the National Language Includes Pitch for English Immersion

By Mary Ann Zehr — August 01, 2007 1 min read

In a commentary arguing that the United States should establish English as the national language, a couple of writers from the Heritage Foundation also claim that English immersion is more effective in schools than bilingual education. The commentary was posted today on the Tucson Citizen Web site.

In the piece, writers Matthew Spalding and Israel Ortega imply that schools should use English immersion to teach children from immigrant families. Here’s an excerpt: “The empirical data in favor of English immersion—the opposite of multilingualism—are overwhelming, with even its most vociferous opponents conceding its merits.”

Apparently as an example of a “vociferous opponent” acknowledging the merits of English immersion, the authors note that Ken Noonan (they mistakenly call him Ken Noon) publicly supported English immersion after California voters approved a ballot measure in 1998 to curtail bilingual education. He had previously been an advocate of bilingual education. The authors do not, however, cite any of the “empirical data” in favor of English immersion.

As usual, Stephen D. Krashen, a professor emeritus at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles, and an advocate for bilingual education who keeps close tabs on editorials that run in newspapers about this subject, did not let the view of the Heritage Foundation writers stand uncontested. He posted a comment, saying “The empirical data is not in favor of English immersion. In fact it is ‘overwhelmingly’ in favor of bilingual education. Study after study shows that children in bilingual programs consistently do better than children in English immersion programs on tests of English reading.”

The example of Ken Noonan’s change of view has been included repeatedly in newspaper articles for eight years. Education Week first quoted him in 1999 when he was the superintendent of the Oceanside Unified School District in California. For much longer than that, Mr. Krashen has been trying to set members of the public straight regarding what research says about the merits of bilingual education.

Educators, do you have examples on the ground to flesh out the claims on either side of the debate? If so, let us know what they are—and next time I write an article about this topic for Education Week, I’ll contact you.

I’d like to get some new voices into this debate.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read