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Mar 11, 2011 15:46
Bilingualism is often signaled as one of the causes of minority children’s academic underachievement. A common belief is that bilinguals have two under developed languages; while monolinguals have one well developed language. However, according to several theories this is not true. Moreover, the Threshold s theory explains that balanced bilingualism may lead to higher levels of cognition, and only when both languages are under developed detrimental effects such as academic failure may occur. In addition, lack of exposure to the majority language has also been attributed as reason for ELL’s under achievement. Consequently, mainstreaming and transitional forms of bilingual education attempt to ensure a fast conversion to the majority language. Yet, this can stand the chance of doing more harm than good. It denies the child’s skills in the home language, the cognitive and academic competence in that language and often it denies the identity and self-respect of the child itself. On the contrary, bilingual education when effective implemented is not the cause of under achievement; rather it is the cure (p. 206)
Furthermore, mismatch between home and school is also one of the factors for bilingual student’s underachievement. For that reason, the alternative view is that, where practicable the school system should be flexible enough to incorporate the home language and the culture. A mismatch between home and school can be positively addressed by strong forms of bilingual education for language minorities (p. 207). Overall, the real causes of underachievement tend to lie in relative social and economic deprivation and exclusion, a school which rejects the home language and culture of the child, and occasionally real learning difficulties (p. 210).