Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
Opinion
English-Language Learners Letter to the Editor

Language Acquisition Cannot Be Forced

November 15, 2016 1 min read

To the Editor:

Harmeet Dhillon, a spokesperson for the California Republican Party, claims that it is “common sense that the faster you’re required to learn the mainstream language, the better off you are” (“Bilingual Education Poised for a Comeback in California Schools,” Oct. 12, 2016). This is not true. We do not acquire language because we are forced to. We acquire language when we understand what we hear and read in that language, that is, when we get “comprehensible input.”

When non-native English-speakers in bilingual schools get quality education in their first language, they learn more subject matter. This knowledge helps make the English they hear more comprehensible, which results in more acquisition of English. Bilingual programs are not taught entirely in one language, such as Spanish. Students take English-as-a-second-language classes from the first day of school, and subject matter is taught in English as soon as it can be made comprehensible.

Research consistently shows that students in quality bilingual programs outperform students with similar backgrounds on tests of English reading.

Stephen Krashen

Professor Emeritus of Education

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, Calif.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the November 16, 2016 edition of Education Week as Language Acquisition Cannot Be Forced

Events

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.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Branding your district matters. This webinar will provide you with practical tips and strategies to elevate your brand from three veteran professionals, each of whom has been directly responsible for building their own district’s brand.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
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.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Nearly two-thirds of U.S. school districts are using hybrid learning right now with varying degrees of success. Students and teachers are getting restless and frustrated with online learning, making curriculum engagement difficult and disjointed. While
Content provided by Samsung
Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
America is more divided than ever—and dangerously so. We need not look any further than the recent attack on the U.S. Capitol while Congress was certifying the results of the presidential election. The denial of

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Special Education Teacher
Chicago, Illinois
JCFS Chicago
Elementary Teacher - Scholars Academy
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Clinical Director
Garden Prairie, IL, US
Camelot Education

Read Next

English-Language Learners Spotlight Spotlight on Bilingualism and Remote Learning
In this Spotlight, discover how educators are remotely assessing English-learners and more.
English-Language Learners How Will Schools Teach English-Language Learners This Fall?
A new database offers a state-by-state look at guidance on supporting English-learner students and their families amid the global pandemic.
2 min read
English-Language Learners Spanish-Speaking Students Need Support. A New Podcast May Help
Por Nuestros Niños, an education-focused Spanish-language radio show and podcast, could help families navigate an uncertain return to school.
4 min read
English-Language Learners Spotlight Spotlight on Dual-Language Learning
In this Spotlight, discover how schools and districts are keeping English-language learners connected during school closures and more.