Arizona legislators are attempting to roll back the state’s mandate that requires English-language learners in grades K-12 to spend 4 hours a day in English immersion classes.
A committee of the Arizona Legislature recently moved to roll back the 4-hour daily English language instruction to just 2 hours a day.
Under the current system, English-language learners, also known as ELL students, spend 4 hours a day in a classroom studying English grammar, conversation, and vocabulary, with no other languages allowed.
In the year 2000, Proposition 203 passed in Arizona. It restricted bilingual education and required English immersion programs for ELL students in Arizona classrooms. Subsequent legislation created the 4-hour daily requirement for ELL students in their first year of learning English. The legislative intent was for ELL students to stay in the English immersion program for one year, and then they would begin to take classes with other English-proficient classmates.
ProEnglish strongly urges Arizona to retain the state’s mandate that requires 4 hours a day of English language immersion classes for its ELL students.
ProEnglish long has advocated for English language immersion programs as far superior to bilingual education programs for students for whom English is not the native language, in order not to relegate such students to a linguistic ghetto in which they are destined for a poorer-quality educational experience and a stronger likelihood of lower-paying job opportunities upon graduation.
Bilingual education programs fail to teach students the English language and literacy skills that they need for academic and professional success. Segregation by language and ethnicity does not lead to higher academic performance, and delaying the learning of English holds back student achievement. Graduating from school without fluency and literacy in English severely deprives students of a world of greater academic and professional opportunities in the United States and elsewhere.
English language immersion programs offer students the opportunity to study English intensively and to learn how to speak, read, and write the language on a fast-track basis. English language immersion programs offer students the best chances for higher-quality educational experiences and a greater likelihood of higher-paying job and professional opportunities upon graduation.
Arizona would be doing its ELL students a far greater service by retaining its 4 hours of daily English language immersion programs rather than returning to failed bilingual education programs.