Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Three Theories of the Effects of Language Education Programs: An Empirical Evaluation of Bilingual and English-Only Policies

  • Jeff MacSwan (a1), Marilyn S. Thompson (a2), Kellie Rolstad (a1), Kara McAlister (a2) and Gerda Lobo (a2)...
Abstract

We empirically evaluated three theoretical models—the threshold hypothesis, transfer theory, and time-on-task theory—for educating English language learners (ELLs), with a focus on the role of language factors in explaining achievement differences among ELLs. Participants were 196 sixth graders with Spanish language backgrounds who started learning English in kindergarten and then were continuously enrolled in a U.S. school. Structural equation modeling was used to estimate the extent to which Spanish and English language and literacy—skills that are emphasized differentially in competing theories for educating ELLs—predict academic achievement assessed in English. Results indicated that Spanish literacy, over and above English language proficiency, was substantially predictive of academic achievement, consistent with the transfer theory. This model was a more focused version of the threshold hypothesis, in that the weaker predictor of Spanish oral language proficiency was excluded. Time-on task theory was not supported.

Copyright
References
Hide All
August, D., & Hakuta, K. (Eds.). (1997). Educating language-minority children. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
August, D., & Shanahan, T. (Eds.). (2006). Developing literacy in second-language learners: Report of the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Baker, C., & Wright, W. (2017). Foundations of bilingual education and bilingualism (6th ed.). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.
Baker, K., & de Kanter, A. A. (1981). Effectiveness of bilingual education: A review of the literature (Final Draft Report). Washington, DC: Department of Education Office of Planning, Budget, and Evaluation.
Brown, R. (1973). A first language. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Bygate, M. (2001). Effects of task repetition on the structure and control of language. In Bygate, M., Skehan, P., & Swain, M. (Eds.), Task-based learning: Language teaching, learning and assessment (pp. 2348). London, UK: Longman.
Chomsky, N. (1995). The minimalist program. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Commins, N., & Miramontes, O. (1989). Perceived and actual linguistic competence: A descriptive study of four low-achieving Hispanic bilingual students. American Educational Research Journal, 26 (4), 443472.
Cook, V. J. (2001). Using the first language in the classroom. Canadian Modern Language Review, 57 (3), 402423.
Crawford, J. (2004). Educating English learners: Language diversity in the classroom (5th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Bilingual Education Services.
Crawford, J. (2008). Advocating for English learners. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.
Cummins, J. (1976). The influence of bilingualism on cognitive growth: A synthesis of research findings and explanatory hypotheses. Working Papers in Bilingualism, 9, 143.
Cummins, J. (1979). Linguistic interdependence and the educational development of bilingual children. Review of Educational Research, 49, 221251.
Cummins, J. (1981). The role of primary language development in promoting educational success for language minority students. In California State Department of Education (Ed.), Schooling and language minority students: A theoretical framework. Sacramento, CA: Office of Bilingual Bicultural Education, California State Department of Education.
Cummins, J. (1994). Semilingualism. In Asher, R.R. (Ed.), International encyclopedia of language and linguistics (2nd ed., pp. 38123814). Oxford, UK: Elsevier Science.
Cummins, J. (2000). Language, power, and pedagogy: Bilingual children in the crossfire. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
Cummins, J. (2008). Teaching for transfer: Challenging the two solitudes assumption in bilingual education. In Cummins, J. & Hornberger, N. H. (Eds.), Encyclopedia of language and education: Vol. 5. Bilingual education (2nd ed., pp. 6575). Boston, MA: Springer Science + Business Media.
Cummins, J. (2017). Teaching for transfer in multilingual educational contexts. In Garcia, O. & Lin, A. (Eds.), Encyclopedia of language and education: Vol. 5. Bilingual education (3rd ed., pp. 103115). New York, NY: Springer Science + Business Media.
Curtiss, C. (2013). Revisiting modularity: Using language as a window to the mind. In Piatelli-Palmarini, M. & Berwick, R. C. (Eds.), Rich languages from poor inputs (pp. 6890). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Curtiss, S., MacSwan, J., Schaeffer, J., Kural, M., & Sano, T. (2004). GCS: A grammatical coding system for natural language data. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers, 34 (3), 459480.
Edelsky, C. (2006). With literacy and justice for all: Rethinking the social in language and education (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
Edelsky, C., Hudelson, S., Flores, B., Barkin, F., Altweger, J., & Jilbert, K. (1983). Semilingualism and language deficit. Applied Linguistics, 4, 122.
Faltis, C. (1989). Code-switching and bilingual schooling: An examination of Jacobson's new concurrent approach. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 10 (2), 117127.
Gallistel, C. R., & King, A. P. (2009). Chapter 13: The modularity of learning. In Memory and the computational brain: Why cognitive science will transform neuroscience. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell. doi:10.1002/9781444310498.ch13
García, O. (2009). Bilingual education in the 21st century: A global perspective. Malden, MA: Basil/Blackwell.
Gass, S. M., & Varonis, M. (1984). The effect of familiarity on the comprehensibility of non-native speech. Language Learning, 34 (1), 6589.
Genesee, F., Lindholm-Leary, K., Saunders, W. M., & Christian, D. (Eds.). (2006). Educating English language learners: A synthesis of research evidence. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Greene, J. P. (1998). A meta-analysis of the effectiveness of bilingual education. Claremont, CA: Thomas Rivera Policy Institute.
Grosjean, F. (1985). The bilingual as a competent but specific speaker-hearer. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 6 (6), 467477.
Grosjean, F. (2010). Bilingual: Life and reality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Hakuta, K., & D'Andrea, D. (1992). Some properties of bilingual maintenance and loss in Mexican background high-school students. Applied Linguistics, 13 (1), 7299.
Hansegård, N. E. (1968). Tvåspråkighet eller halvspråkighet? Stockholm: Aldus series 253.
Jacobson, R. (1978). Code-switching in south Texas: Sociolinguistic considerations and pedagogical applications. Journal of the Linguistic Association of the Southwest, 3, 2032.
Jacobson, R. (1990). Allocating two languages as a key feature of bilingual methodology. In Jacobson, R. & Faltis, C. (Eds.), Language distribution issues in bilingual schooling (pp. 317). Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.
Kena, G., Hussar, W., McFarland, J., de Brey, C., Musu-Gillette, L., Wang, X., . . . Dunlop Velez, E. (2016). The condition of education 2016 (NCES 2016–144). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.
Krashen, S. (1996). Under attack: The case against bilingual education. Culver City, CA: Language Education Associates.
Lau v. Nichols , 414 U.S. 563 (1974).
MacSwan, J. (2000). The threshold hypothesis, semilingualism, and other contributions to a deficit view of linguistic minorities. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 22 (1), 345.
MacSwan, J. (2017). A multilingual perspective on translanguaging. American Educational Research Journal, 54 (1), 167201. doi:10.3102/0002831216683935
MacSwan, J., & Pray, L. (2005). Learning English bilingually: Age of onset of exposure and rate of acquisition of English among children in a bilingual education program. Bilingual Research Journal, 29 (3), 687712.
MacSwan, J., & Rolstad, K. (2003). Linguistic diversity, schooling, and social class: Rethinking our conception of language proficiency in language minority education. In Paulston, C. B. & Tucker, R. (Eds.), Sociolinguistics: The essential readings (pp. 329340). Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
MacSwan, J., & Rolstad, K. (2005). Modularity and the facilitation effect: Psychological mechanisms of transfer in bilingual students. Hispanic Journal of the Behavioral Sciences, 27 (2), 224243.
MacSwan, J., & Rolstad, K. (2006). How language tests mislead us about children's abilities: Implications for special education placements. Teachers College Record, 108 (11), 23042328.
MacSwan, J., & Rolstad, K. (2010). The role of language in theories of academic failure for linguistic minorities. In Petrovic, J. (Ed.), International perspectives on bilingual education: Policy, practice, and controversy (pp. 173195). Charlotte, NC: Information Age.
MacWhinney, B. (1995). The CHILDES project: Tools for analyzing talk (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Martin-Jones, M., & Romaine, S. (1986). Semilingualism: A half-baked theory of communicative competence. Applied Linguistics, 7 (1), 2638.
Mayer, M. (1969). Frog, where are you? New York, NY: Puffin.
McField, G. P., & McField, D. R. (2014). The consistent outcome of bilingual education programs: A meta-analysis of meta-analyses. In McField, G. P. (Ed.), The miseducation of English learners (pp. 267298). Charlotte, NC: Information Age.
Meyer, M. M., & Fienberg, S. E. (Eds.). (1992). Assessing evaluation studies: The case of bilingual education strategies. Washington, DC: National Academic Press.
Milk, R. (1986). The issue of language separation in bilingual methodology. In García, E. & Flores, B. (Eds.), Language and literacy research in bilingual education (pp. 6786). Tempe, AZ: Center for Bilingual Education, Arizona State University.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2017). Promoting the educational success of children and youth learning English: Promising futures. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
Paulston, C. B. (1983). Swedish research and debate about bilingualism. Stockholm, Sweden: National Swedish Board of Education.
Petrovic, J. E., & Olmstead, S. (2001). Language, power, and pedagogy: Bilingual children in the crossfire, by J. Cummins [Book review]. Bilingual Research Journal, 25 (3), 405410.
Porter, R. P. (1990). Forked tongue. The politics of bilingual education. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Reljić, G., Ferring, D., & Martin, R. (2015). A meta-analysis on the effectiveness of bilingual programs in Europe. Review of Educational Research, 85 (1), 92128.
Ringbom, H. (1962). Tvåspråkighet som forskningsobjekt. Finsk Tidskrift, 6.
Rolstad, K. (2005). Rethinking academic language in second language instruction. In Cohen, J., McAlister, K., Rolstad, K., & MacSwan, J. (Eds.), ISB4: Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium on Bilingualism (pp. 19931999). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
Rolstad, K. (2015). Second language instructional competence. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 1, 113. doi:10.1080/13670050.2015.1057101
Rolstad, K., & MacSwan, J. (2008). BICS/CALP: Theory and critique. In Gonzalez, J. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of bilingual education (pp. 6265). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Rolstad, K., Mahoney, K., & Glass, G. V. (2005). The big picture: A meta-analysis of program effectiveness research on English language learners. Educational Policy, 19, 572594.
Rossell, C. H., & Baker, K. (1996). The educational effectiveness of bilingual education. Research in the Teaching of English, 30 (1), 774.
Semel, E., Wiig, E. H., & Secord, W. A. (1995). Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals R – Third Edition (CELF R). San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.
Skutnabb-Kangas, T. (1981). Bilingualism or not? The education of minorities. (Malmberg, L. & Crane, D., Trans.). Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
Slavin, R., & Cheung, A. (2005). A synthesis of research of reading instruction for English language learners. Review of Educational Research, 75 (2), 247284.
Thompson, M. S., DiCerbo, K., Mahoney, K. S., & MacSwan, J. (2002). ¿Éxito en California? A validity critique of language program evaluations and analysis of English learner test scores. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 10 (7). doi:10.14507/epaa.v10n7.2002
Toukomaa, P., & Skutnabb-Kangas, T. (1977). The intensive teaching of the mother tongue to migrant children at pre-school age (Department of Sociology and Social Psychology Research Report No. 26). Tampere, Finland: University of Tampere.
United States Commission on Civil Rights. (1975). A better chance to learn: Bilingual bicultural education. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.
Uriagereka, J. (2012). Spell-out and the minimalist program. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Valadez, C., MacSwan, J., & Martínez, C. (2000). Toward a new view of low-achieving bilinguals: A study of linguistic competence in designated “semilinguals.” Bilingual Review, 25 (3), 238248.
Wiley, T. G. (2005). Literacy and language diversity in the United States (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics.
Wiley, T. G., & Rolstad, K.. (2014). The common core state standards and the great divide. International Multilingual Research Journal, 8 (1), 3855.
Willig, A. C. (1985). A meta-analysis of selected studies on the effectiveness of bilingual education. Review of Educational Research, 55 (3), 269318.
Wong Fillmore, L., & Valadez, C. (1986). Teaching bilingual learners. In Wittrock, M. C. (Ed.), Handbook of research on teaching (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Macmillan.
Woodcock, R. W. (1991). Woodcock language proficiency battery (revised). Itasca, IL: Riverside.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Annual Review of Applied Linguistics
  • ISSN: 0267-1905
  • EISSN: 1471-6356
  • URL: /core/journals/annual-review-of-applied-linguistics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed