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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Bilingual Education Is Effective Learning Tool

August 03, 2003

Re "Dual-Immersion Is a Success in Santa Ana," July 17:

It saddens me that responses to any bilingual program story still contain gross misconceptions of the nature of bilingual education. Granted, some well-intentioned bilingual educators of the past tweaked bilingual programs until the goal of learning English all but disappeared, but dual-language programs, when done correctly, yield a population of students fluent in English and at a minimum, proficient in a second language.

Would readers change their perception of dual-language programs if they knew there are Japanese-English programs, among other combinations, in other public school districts across the country? Do readers know these programs take five to seven years to implement effectively? After all, the students are learning two languages, of which one is English. In most dual-language programs, at least half of those in the program have to be English-speakers, so these English speaking students get the benefit of learning a new language in the process.

And if some readers feel that learning a new language competes with other educational goals, then I wish them well when my well-prepared daughter gets hired over their kids because she's bilingual. Somehow, at age 3, she's capable of managing two languages.

It's too bad some in this country seem to have their own learning challenges.

Daniel Luna

Santa Ana

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