April 20, 2010
Education, Immersion Found to Work Equally Well
Students Were Assigned Randomly to Programs, With Some Followed Five Years
By Mary Ann Zehr
In the first randomized-assignment study in which English-language learners were followed for as long as five years, researchers have found that Spanish-speaking children learn to read English equally well regardless of whether they are taught primarily in English or in both English and their native language.
The finding from the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University may take some fuel out of the fire in the national debate over which is best for teaching children from immigrant families to read: English immersion or bilingual education.
“People have been fighting for years and years about the language of instruction, thinking that it was either terribly important to teach in English the whole time or terribly important to teach in Spanish and then English. Both groups were wrong,” said Robert E. Slavin, the director of the center, in Baltimore, and one of the researchers...