Perceptions of Bilingual Education: Does it Help or Hinder?

by Katie Noll
Faculty advisor: Dr. Katya Koubek

During the fall semester of 2009, I conducted a survey in regards to parental perceptions of bilingual education and presented the collection of data to my Second Language Acquisition class. My interest in this particular area has continued to grow, and I am in the process of furthering my understanding of bilingual education and the common resistance against its inclusion in public schools. At the time I first distributed the survey, I had fewer participants, and of little demographic variance, than I would have liked. I have reopened the project, in hopes of retrieving the opinions of a greater variety of families, to include those of different cultures, ethnicities, language backgrounds, and educational backgrounds.

The results I received in 2009 indicated that very few parents (15%) were aware of the debate regarding bilingual education before taking the survey. However, even in the absence of this awareness or any actual knowledge in the area, 69% of parents believed that only English should be spoken in a child’s home, whether or not English was that child’s first language. Also, the majority of parents indicated that they would like their child to learn a second language, but only 8% said they would want their child to receive a bilingual education.

These contradictions are both troubling and intriguing, and I hope to explore them further as I continue distribution of the survey and compile the data (and its implications) in a short oral presentation.