chapter  5
10 Pages

Macro-Level Policies—Bilingual Education

Th e United States has had a long, unsettled, and oft en contradictory position on the value of bilingualism, and subsequently bilingual education. On one hand, the nation was forged from peoples who came from many countries arriving on a continent that was already multilingual with a wide variety of indigenous languages. Th us the nation’s Constitution is silent about a national language or languages. More contemporarily, the nation has realized that it is in its own vital interests-for economic development, political cooperation, and military defense-to have a nation of citizens capable of speaking a variety of languages. On the other hand, the nation desires assurance that all its citizens are capable of speaking a common language. Many also hold an ideological orientation that English is not simply another language but, in fact, a superior language (SkiltonSylvester 2003).