BILINGUAL EDUCATION AND LANGUAGE INTERDEPENDENCE: CUMMINS AND BEYOND
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Hispanic school children have long been influenced by bilingualism. That these children need to attain skills in English has been generally agreed upon; however, the controversy centers on whether L1 is to be maintained in school or allowed to disappear.;This issue concerns the academic usefulness of the vernacular. Opponents see it as a hindrance to acculturation, supporters maintain that it is in fact an aid to the child's speedy transition into English.;Longitudinal research in this area is needed. This dissertation's goal is to engage in longitudinal research to further evidence on behalf of the linguistic developmental interdependence hypothesis as propounded by Cummins (1979).;Seventy five Hispanic first graders enrolled in bilingual schools in Newark, New Jersey participated in the study. Factor, t test, variance and correlation statistics of L1 and L2 proficiency scores for three consecutive years were utilized. Degree of L1 accountability for L2 proficiency was to be observed. Anticipated intervening variables were included in the analysis as well as the subjects' IQs as measures of control.;Two linguistic profiles were generated by the study. The first is consonant with Cummins' linguistic interdependence hypothesis, that second language development relies strongly on first language proficiency in this specific population of bilingual children in a short term paradigm.;Higher levels of English language competence only on the higher Spanish proficiency group were generated. In addition, the longitudinal dimension of linguistic interdependence was shown to exist, thus strongly supporting Cummins' hypothesis. Spanish and English academic language scores loaded on one single factor within and across languages and within and across time variables.;On the other hand, L1 and L2 mean scores showed a downward trend from one year to the next. This may be due to bilingual schooling subjected to the strains of heterogenous mix of language skills among a transient student population and an unclear curricular philosophy. A diglossic arrangement for the teaching of languages so that these maintain functional significance also appeared lacking.;Beyond Cummins' hypothesis, it appears necessary that Hispanics organize their own ethnic-mother-tongue schools. Only then will long lasting and authentic support of the vernacular ever be effected.
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 46-11, Section: B, page: 4039.