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2 Chapter Two: Bilingual programmes and their effectiveness

2.5 May and Hill typology

2.5.3 Level 3: Approach

bilingualism discussed earlier (see May, 2001; Skutnabb-Kangas, 2000), and imposed by colonising powers. They certainly make the maintenance of indigenous languages considerably more difficult. Given this, it is crucial that both the international and national research literature begin to address more clearly the specific consequences of the increase in L2 speakers in many heritage language programmes.

In particular, we need to distinguish, and if necessary differentiate, between the specific language and learning needs of L1 and L2 speakers or learners of the target minority language within these programmes. This can be accomplished in ways that will further enhance the developmental and educational outcomes of all the students involved, but only if these issues are directly addressed. At this time, the increasing presence of L2 speakers continues to be either ignored, or their needs subsumed within those of the L1 group, even though the educational circumstances and learning needs of these groups may differ markedly. Baker’s (2001) typology of heritage language education, for example, did not distinguish between these groups or their different characteristics, and this is typical of the literature more generally, although Baker (2006) has subsequently modified his analysis to address this issue. Much the same can be said for the research literature on Māori-medium education, at least until recently (see Chapter Three).

important ends. First, it excludes programmes that do not attempt to accommodate the child’s native language, nor aspire to produce bilingual graduates, because their goal does not include bilingualism and biliteracy. Second, it allows the inclusion of transitional bilingual programmes (see above), which although subtractive in nature, can still effect the achievement of bilingualism and biliteracy in students if they are long-term programmes. I will now discuss the most significant bilingual programmes internationally in relation to these broad distinctions.

2.5.3.1 Transitional

In transitional bilingual education (TBE),14 the minority language students are initially taught through their L1 or home language until they are considered proficient enough in the majority language to cope in general or English-language education (García, 1996).

They are then moved to an English-medium class. The transition to an English language class occurs either after one to three years in early-exit programmes, or after four to six years in late-exit programmes.

TBE programmes do encompass, recognition of the importance and usefulness of using an L1 as a bridge to the acquisition of an L2. However, there remain a number of identified problems with such programmes. They are still predicated on a subtractive view of bilingualism, even if they do allow an initial period of learning through their L1 to help with the transition to English (Lessow-Hurley, 2000). Furthermore, students of early-exit transitional programmes will have developed conversational ability in an L2, perhaps even fluent conversational ability, but will not have had enough time or opportunity to develop the academic language ability required of schooling, certainly not to a comparable degree to their L1 English-speaking peers.

14 Transitional programmes are situated at both the ‘models’ level and the ‘approaches’

level of this typology. As a model, transitional programmes are subtractive in nature, aiming to shift students away from their L1, and catering for minority group children whose heritage language is their L1. As an approach, transitional programmes are divided into early exit (up to two years) and late exit programmes (three to six years). Here children receive bilingual instruction, but for a shorter period than maintenance programmes.

Thomas and Collier (2002) support this contention. From their longitudinal study of the educational outcomes of minority students in the United States context, they advise that students without any English proficiency should not be placed in short-term programmes of one to three years. A minimum of six years, they argue, is required for successful development of academic language proficiency in an L2. This point is consistent with the wider research also (Baker, 2006, Cummins, 2000) and is also supported by evidence of academic outcomes. In the Thomas and Collier study (2002), students in 50-50 Transitional programmes – that is, 50 percent English and 50 percent target language per week – reached the 45th percentile by the end of Grade 11. The students of 90-10 Transitional programmes (where 90 percent of instruction is in the L1 initially, and gradually increasing English instruction until by Grade 5 all instruction is in L2) reached the 32nd percentile by the end of Grade 5.

Ramírez (1992) came to similar conclusions in his longitudinal study of 554 Latino students involved in three types of United States’ programmes, including English-only, early-exit transition, and exit programmes. Ramírez found that the students in late-exit programmes that continued to emphasize primary language instruction throughout the elementary school (approximately 40 percent of instructional time) were catching up academically to students in early-exit and immersion programmes (García, 2009), and proportionally, a significant trend, given that more of their families came from the lowest income levels than was the case for students in the other two programmes. Differences were also observed among the late-exit sites with respect to mathematics, English language and English reading. Students in the two late-exit sites that continued L1 instruction through to Grade 6 made significantly better academic progress than those who were transferred early into all-English instruction. Ramírez concluded that:

Students who were provided with a substantial and consistent primary language development programme learned mathematics, English language, and English reading skills as fast or faster than the norming population in this study. As their growth in these academic skills is atypical of disadvantaged youth, it provides support for the efficacy of primary language development facilitating the acquisition of English language skills. (1992, p. 38)

2.5.3.2 Developmental maintenance/one way

Developmental maintenance programmes (or one-way as they are often described in the United States context) (Thomas & Collier, 2002) usually involve minority groups who are instructed through both their languages (Baker, 2006). A typical example would be of Latino families who move to the United States and enrol in a Spanish bilingual school.

Like Canadian immersion programmes, these programmes are usually either 90/10 models or 50/50 models. The 90/10 typically begins with a high level of target language instruction, followed by a gradual decrease until the percentage of target language instruction between the two languages is even, which usually occurs by Year 6.

Developmental maintenance programmes have been found to be a very effective means of educating this special group of students. Results from research into the benefits of these programmes show that in programmes described as “feature rich” (Thomas &

Collier, 2002), the students reach grade norm levels of attainment by around Year 6 of school (Ramírez et al., 1991; Thomas & Collier, 1997, 2002). Thomas and Collier’s (2002) latest study found that 90-10 and 50-50 Developmental maintenance programmes are the only ones that assist students to fully reach the 50th percentile in both L1 and L2 in all subjects, and to maintain that level of high achievement. According to these authors, the fewest dropouts come from these programmes (Thomas & Collier, 2002, p. 7).

2.5.3.3 Two-way/Dual language approaches

Two-way programmes represent a highly effective version of bilingual education that has emerged in the United States in recent years. They are unique in the respect that each classroom includes two equally portioned groups of students, each with a different native language. The idea here is that both groups are learning the other’s native language along with their own L1. Two-way programmes are either 90/10 or 50/50 in the quantity of instruction of each language. A 90/10 programme will provide 90 percent of instruction time to the language least likely to be spoken in the wider society – for instance, Spanish in a Spanish/English programme in the US. Alternatively, a 50/50 programme divides instructional time in half, so that students are exposed to an equal amount of both languages (Baker & Prys Jones 1998).

The results from research evidence thus far (see Freeman, 1998; Lindholm-Leary, 2001;

Lindholm-Leary & Borsato, 2006) shows that this approach is more successful than others in achieving bilingualism and biliteracy for its students (see the Thomas and Collier (1997) graph later in this section).15

2.5.3.4 Immersion

Immersion education is an enrichment bilingual education model that is most commonly associated with language majority students who are learning through their L2 rather than their L1 (Hamers & Blanc, 2000; Skutnabb-Kangas, 2000). The programmes are additive in their goals. They aim to enable the students to attain functional bilingualism and biliteracy in the particular languages concerned by the time they finish high school (Hamers & Blanc, 2000). Māori-medium programmes are often compared with Canadian French immersion programmes, despite there being significant differences in each context. As such, an extended discussion of the Canadian model will be included here to enable a comparison with the New Zealand model.

According to Swain and Johnson (1997) there are eight core features of a prototypical immersion programme:

• The L2 is a medium of instruction

• The immersion curriculum parallels the local L1 curriculum

• Overt support exists for the L1

• The programme aims for additive bilingualism

• Exposure to the L2 is largely confined to the classroom

• Students enter with similar (and limited) levels of L2 proficiency

• The teachers are bilingual

• The classroom culture is that of the local L1 community.

15 This approach is not employed in Aotearoa/New Zealand, and will thus not be discussed further in this research. For more discussion on this form of education, see Cloud, Genesee and Hamayan (2001), Freeman (2000), and Lindholm-Leary (2001).

Immersion programmes originated in Canada when two researchers, Wallace Lambert and Wilder Penfield, from McGill University, were pressed by the local Protestant school board to try a new approach to the teaching of French. In 1965 the board agreed to an experiment in French immersion.

The initial class of 26 L1 English-speaking kindergarteners entered a school programme conducted entirely in French. In this early total immersion model, students first learned to read in their L2. In Grade 2, one period of English language arts was then introduced, and gradually the proportion of English was further increased in other subjects until it reached about 60 percent by the end of elementary school.

Immersion students in Canada were not mixed with native French speakers, thus allowing for instruction to be conducted initially in simplified French, and in a context that prioritised incidental learning of the language (Crawford, 1999). The teachers were all fluent bilinguals who spoke to the students only in French from the outset. However, recognizing that speech production lags comprehension in second language learning, the programme’s designers allowed students to use English to ask questions in class until the end of the Grade 1. This flexibility thereby allowed for the second language phenomenon called the “silent period” to occur, thus giving the children time in their initial learning of French to use English and bridge the gap between their native language and their new language.

Judged against the standard of traditional foreign-language classes, immersion was an unqualified success in teaching French. By the end of elementary school, students achieved native-like levels in the receptive aspects of the language, including their listening skills and their reading skills. Their speaking and writing skills were less developed, probably because they had limited interactions with francophone peers.

Nevertheless, the immersion students became quite fluent and quite comfortable in speaking French, for the most part. Academically also, the students attained well in their curriculum subjects (Crawford, 1999).

2.5.3.5 Evaluation of immersion programmes

There have been numerous evaluations of Canadian French immersion programmes since the 1970s. Some of the most important are those by Genesee (1984) and Swain and Lapkin (1982). In these studies, the achievements of French-immersion students were

compared with those of monolingual speaking students in traditional English-only programmes and those of French-speaking students in French schools. The results of the assessments have also been shown to be stable across Canada:

• Students’ L1 competence is initially not on a par with students with the same L1 in general or mainstream programmes, but as soon as instruction in L1 starts, they catch up, and are usually at the national norm level in their L1 – or higher - in Grade 5 at the latest. By this time, their school achievement is on a par with non-immersion students and is often actually higher (Skutnabb-Kangas, 2000).

• At the same time, the competence in their L2 often reaches to near native level in listening and reading comprehension. In productive L2 skills of speaking and especially writing, the immersion students usually make more mistakes, are not as fluent as native speakers, and generally lag behind. Despite this, their productive L2 is at a much higher level than anything reached by good foreign language teaching (Cummins & Swain, 1986; de Mejia, 2008; Hamers & Blanc, 2000;

Skutnabb-Kangas, 2000).

• Academic achievement of total immersion students is as high as students taught in English-medium schools on tests of mathematics and science, despite the fact that they receive their instruction in French (Hamers & Blanc, 2000)

• Some studies (for example, Barik & Swain, 1978) show that immersion may lead to cognitive enhancement with IQ measures seeming to increase more over the years for immersion students than for students in traditional English programmes.

This may well relate to the cognitive and educational advantages of additive bilingualism, discussed at length in Chapter One.

However, one of the recognised weaknesses of Canadian French-immersion programmes is that the students in these programmes may have little exposure to the French language beyond the school (Skutnabb-Kangas, 2000). Many of the French immersion programmes are, in fact, situated within English-medium schools, with few, if any, other French-speaking teachers present. Also, aside from Québec, where French is widely spoken, the remainder of Canada remains English-dominant. The pervasive presence of a majority language beyond the school is a difficulty that all minority language programmes face, however. The same concerns have been raised about Welsh-medium education, for

example, and in Aotearoa/New Zealand in relation to Māori-medium education (May, 2001).

There are six reasons for the success of Canadian programmes, some of which suggest it is unwise to attempt to compare these programmes directly with New Zealand programmes.

• The Canadian model deals with two prestigious languages (additive) which are learned at no cost to their home language or culture

• This schooling is an optional method that often attracts parents who tend to be middle class and, as such, have an understanding of the structure and organisation of the school system

• Both languages (French and English) have status in the school. For example,