Apr 27 2011

this post is boring unless you care about sei vs. bilingual ed

i just wanted to take a second to make peace with structured english  immersion, because at the end of the idea, it’s not a bad idea. in fact it works for a lot of students a lot of the time (even the supreme court thinks so). so why isn’t everyone and their mother using sei? well in california, unless the parent of a student applies for a waiver, said student is, in fact in an sei situation (which basically means english instruction for most of the day at the cost of academic content. the idea is to learn english really quickly to be mainstreamed into an english language classroom and to learn academic content in english). some studies show better all around academic achievement for sei students when compared to bilingual students. however, not a single study that i’ve read shows sei to be more efficacious (at passing standardized tests in english, which isn’t a perfect measure, but you see my point here) than dual-immersion programs. perhaps it’s really about being on the same level as your peers and treated as their equals that makes achievement so, well achieveable

fact is this: sei works, so we really have to use it. but we can’t forget that there are advantages to bilingual education – like in math. this is sort of like the discussion i was having with myself the other day about my desire to want to teach Achebe and Morrison, but knowing that my students need to be able to read Shakes and Ellison better than kids from wealthy districts. they’ll need it in college. Same kind of a thing: my students need to be able to speak english better than students in wealthy school districts. but they also need to be able to do math as well and tell their mother they love her in Spanish - i want to make sure they can do it all.

One Response

  1. briana

    SEI is mandated in the state of Arizona. I had to take a 40-hour online course from February through April to get certified to use the basics of SEI instruction in the classroom. I agree with you in the fact that SEI seems to produce better results in terms of getting students to become fluent in English more quickly. However, I do worry about the fact that teachers aren’t allowed to translate words into the students’ home language(s) for the sake of understanding content. It’s important that students know that educators value their first language as well and I’m not so sure if SEI gets this message across to them.

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