chapter  5
52 Pages

Bilingual and English as a Second Language Education

I heard crying in the infants’ school as though a child had fallen and the voice came nearer and fell flat upon the air as a small girl came through the door and walked a couple of steps towards us… About her neck a piece of new cord, and from the cord, a board that hung to her shins and cut her as she walked… And the board dragged her down, for she was small, and the cord rasped the flesh on her neck, and there were marks upon her shins where the edge of the board had cut… Chalked on the board, in the fist of Mr Elijah Jonas-Sessions, “I must not speak Welsh in school”…

—Llewellyn (1968, p. 267)

Perhaps the most critical policy decision to be made in any school system is the choice of the language used as the medium of instruction for children. This chapter addresses the importance, on social justice grounds, of providing bilingual education to minority language students up to the middle years of childhood or, at the very least, the importance of providing education that fully respects children’s minority first languages. It also discusses the range of best practices for teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), and for the education of established linguistic minorities, and the signing Deaf.