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Challenge: Back to School

Bilingual Education in Schools

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What language has the United States declared as its national language? Most people would immediately say English, and they surprisingly would be wrong. The United States has never declared a national language, which means technically there is no such thing as a foreign language in the United States of America. If there is no foreign language in the United States then why do we insist on teaching our children exclusively in English?

While it is an undisputed fact that around 82% of Americans speaks English as a first language or fluently, and 91% of students hate writing essays in English, we are also the 5th largest Spanish speaking country in the world, only exceeded by Mexico, Spain, Colombia, and Argentina. Around 12% of Americans speak Spanish as a first language or fluently, which includes both Hispanic and Non-Hispanic individuals (Languages in the United States). Spanish has become the second most spoken language in the United States today, and the number will only continue to grow as more Hispanic individuals immigrate to our country (Language in the United States).

With that being said it is mind-blowing that even with the No Child Left Behind law set down by the federal government, which is an English exclusive education law, that more languages are not included (Bilingual Education). While it is true that the majority of high schools in the United States now require each student to take at least one or two years of a foreign language to receive their diplomas, it is curious why we do not start this education much earlier (Bilingual Education). It has been proven that the younger a person is when they begin to learn a language the easier it is to retain that language.

With the popularity of children shows such as Dora the Explorer, Go Diego Go, and Handy Manny children as young as two and three years old are already learning the basics of the Spanish language. It would only make since for our education system to supplement that basic education with more in depth lessons on both Spanish and English. This would not only help those students that do not speak English in the home, but it would give non-Spanish speaking students a chance to learn a new language and culture. Not only would a bilingual education in the very beginning of a child's education make the retention of the language better, it would also help them excel later in life.

Today there are more and more careers that require applicants to speak both English and Spanish, and this need for bilingual individuals will only grow in the coming decades. The United States will have no choice, but to eventually incorporate bilingual education in the very beginning of a student's academic career, if it wants to stay on track with other countries around the world; and if it wants to prepare children for their future careers.

It only makes since that government officials will recognize this fact and incorporate bilingual education in all schools starting as soon as kindergarten, and if the government would act soon then our children will be prepared for the multi-language world that we live in. When will our educators catch up with the times and see that in this "no borders" business world that a multi-language education is a necessity?


1. Bilingual education. (n.d.)

Wikipedia Encyclopedia, Retrieved August 14, 2008, from

2. Languages of the united states. (n.d.)

Wikipedia Encyclopedia, Retrieved August 14, 2008 from

3. Photo courtesy of Psychological Science

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