March 03, 2015

Bilingual vs native-only education programs: Which is best?

Discussions about education for students with limited English proficiency often focus on the language in which they are taught. Evidence suggests that bilingual education programs can support cultural inclusion whilst helping students to keep up with other subjects and improve their native language use.

However, a new article by Aimee Chin shows that bilingual education programs and English-only programs in the US lead to similar academic outcomes.

This suggests that policymakers should shift attention to the quality of education for students with limited native language proficiency. Chin asserts that good access to appropriate learning materials, adequately qualified teachers, and high learning intensity will optimize academic outcomes for these students, regardless of the language used.

The impact of bilingual education on student achievement, by Aimee Chin, was published on 3rd March 2015.

IZA World of Labor is a free, online resource created by the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in collaboration with Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. Articles focus on global labor economics issues, drawing on empirical, evidence-based research in order to offer pertinent comment and evaluation, and best-practice policy advice.

Aimee Chin is Professor of Economics at the University of Houston, and a Research Associate in the Economics of Education program at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She joined the IZA as a Research Fellow in 2010.