MANAGING LINGUISTIC DIVERSITY AND ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE THROUGH DUAL LANGUAGE PROGRAMS IN CALIFORNIA
Formulation of language policy is one of the tools for managing linguistic diversity in education and society in multilingual contexts. California is resident to 213 of the 325 languages spoken in the United States of America (USA), and yet had enforced assimilationist, English only policies until recently. This paper is a review of research on bilingual education policy and practice in the USA. The aim of the paper was to discover the types of bilingual education in operation. Which types were perceived to be successful in providing literacy skills for academic purposes? What success factors and challenges are faced in implementing the program, and what lessons other multilingual and assimilationist policy countries like Botswana may learn from the California experience? The Dual Language Program (DLP) was the most popular and preferred program. In order to gain practical insights on this program, classroom observations were undertaken in two schools in Northridge. Lessons were videotaped and analysed to find out how the program operated, the skills that were being instilled, the teaching methods, and the assessment standards used by teachers. Interviews were conducted with teachers, school administrators, an official and two parents. The paper concludes that while California had English only policies, litigation on language use in schools provided space for bilingual education programs. The DLP promotes biliteracy, bilingualism, and multiculturalism. It also enhances academic performance and fosters an appreciation for cultural diversity, which is necessary for nation building. There are a few lessons for Botswana as a multilingual country with achievement gaps between linguistic groups.
Keywords: diversity, bilingual education, Botswana, dual language, illiteracy.