Can Educators Guarantee Proficient Bilingualism?
Proficient bilingualism is the ability to talk, read, and write in two lan-
guages. Educators can guarantee that children will learn the language
they teach in their school. They cannot guarantee that children will be
proficient in their home language if it’s different from the school lan-
guage. “Raising a child bilingually in the United States does not just
happen—it requires vigilance and persistence on the part of parents and
cooperation and continued practice on the part of the child” (Tabors
2008, 136). Proficient bilingualism is more likely when families are
highly educated, strongly committed to home-language learning, and
have the resources to supplement home-language use with other oppor-
tunities. These may include books and videos, trips to the home coun-
try, connections with local cultural associations, phone calls and letter
writing to friends and family, and weekend language schooling (Pearson
1. Remember a time when you were learning a second language.
Were you a child or an adult? How did it feel? What did you expe-
rience? How does your experience compare with the experiences
of your students?
2. For you, what are the joys of teaching dual-language learners?
What are the challenges?
3. What have you learned about bilingualism in this chapter? What
ideas have you gained for your daily work with children and
families? COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL