San Diego sits at a binational crossroads, perfectly positioned to provide bilingual job candidates in a variety of fields. One study called Southern California one of the most linguistically diverse areas of its size in the country.
The potential supply is there. At least one in five students in San Diego County schools speaks a language other than English. So is demand for bilingual employees. Research and local hiring experts both say that other skills being equal, employers overwhelmingly prefer to hire bilingual candidates over candidates who speak only English.
Lourdes Sandoval, news director for Entravision, said bilingual skills are crucial to mining stories in a diverse community so close to the international border. Yet, she still needs to look outside the area to find bilingual journalists.
“It’s not easy,” said Sandoval. “I spend months trying to find (bilingual) people and sometimes I have to hire international candidates.”
Employers, language experts and teachers point to one root cause: a public education system that restricted bilingual education for the past 18 years.
In 1998, voters passed Proposition 227, a ballot measure that restricted bilingual education in California and relegated the vast majority of students to English-only schools. Last November, voters passed Proposition 58, which lifted those restrictions and made it easier for school districts to open bilingual programs.
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There are many people in Tijuana who speak excellent English at the professional level. They were educated in private bilingual schools, not public schools. Wealthier families can afford to do this. Prop. 227 was approved in California because bilingual education was failing. Too many students from non-English speaking homes were not learning enough English to transition to 100% English classes.
I have a teaching credential with a bilingual certificate in Spanish, but I left teaching decades ago. I learned Spanish the hard way by attending classes as aaf young adult and working in Mexico. Public schools will only be able to afford to educate bilingually a small number of students, and even then mostly at the primary grade level. To continue through secondary school, and even at the university levels, gets very expansive. It requires an especially dedicated student with an interest in a specialty field and a foreign language.
The old adage of "use it or lose it" comes into play. The young mind absorbs a new language quickly, but after the teenage years the ability diminishes rapidly. This means the language learning has to be continuous into the adult years and refreshed throughout the one's career.
"Employers, language experts and teachers point to one root cause for the disconnect: a public education system that has restricted bilingual education for the past 18 years." Seriously? Blame this on the education system? Please edit your headline to reflect the real culprits.
In 1998 CA voters approved prop 227 which did away with bilingual, dual immersion, etc. education. Education experts in language acquisition were ignored and ridiculed all so non-educator Ron Unz and other racists would not have to suffer or feel threatened when they hear foreign languages spoken around them. School districts had no choice in the matter.
It is criminal that for 18 years the citizens of CA allowed certain groups of students to have their native language literacy skills shamed and erased in the name of English only instruction. Particularly since research now shows the benefits of bilingualism: "A superior ability to concentrate, solve problems and focus, better mental flexibility and multitasking skills are, of course, valuable in everyday life. But perhaps the most exciting benefit of bilingualism occurs in ageing, when executive function typically declines: bilingualism seems to protect against dementia." http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160811-the-amazing-benefits-of-being-bilingual
CA now finds itself enlightened about bilingualism and without enough educators fluent in languages other than English. We did this to ourselves and the rest of the world laughs.
It would be interesting to look at a history of the U.S. in terms of multi-lingual cultures.
NYC, Chicago, and other urban centers over the decades (centuries) have had multi-lingual communities. How does NYC (nations largest public school district) handle multi-lingual education? How does LAUSD handle this?
Bear in mind, LAUSD is larger than the next (x5) districts in California. I believe NY public school district is a factor of (x10) larger than LAUSD. If ultra-large districts don't have the "economy" of scale to implement teaching in several languages, then how does SDUSD have a chance?
Given the shortage of even Spanish / English teachers at SDUSD, how can SDUSD address teaching in Spanish? Why aren't Spanish speaking immigrants, some of which have been in the US for decades, encouraging their children to become Spanish / English teachers?
This country used to be German / English speaking when it was founded. The German language fell by the wayside. No other language has come close to a second language other than Spanish. Is the transition to bi-lingual for U.S. possible? Have there been bi-lingual cities in U.S. history that have taught in two languages? After +200 years of U.S. history, is San Diego really the first to be successful at this? Why now as opposed to 10, 25, 50, 100, 200 yrs ago?
I'm not sure Public Education is the answer to providing future skilled employees. Graduating bilingual kids with 6th grade level reading, writing and math skills doesn't seem like a great benefit to local employers.