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Reporter’s Notebook: Does Bilingual Education Help or Hurt?

Will your child benefit from a bilingual education or fall behind?

I was sent an announcement today about a bilingual middle school opening in Oakland and Emeryville. Escuela Bilingüe Internacional aleady has primary and pre-primary schools and now they’re adding a middle school.

Escuela Bilingüe Internacional says it has “tripled its enrollment since its opening in September 2006.” The primary and pre-primary schools were authorized last year by the International Baccalaureate. 

I used to be skeptical of bilingual education. I thought, well if students aren’t speaking the language at home with their parents, but only at school, won’t their basic study skills like math, and science suffer?

But I shot a (somewhat corny my part, that is, not the awesome kids!) video about a Spanish and Japanese immersion public school program in Southern California’s Culver City.

Anecdotally, I was super impressed with the students. They were bright, motivated and most of all engaged with school. No mean feat for a public school in Los Angeles.

And statistically, the principal said that the students there tested on par with their peers in the basics like math and history, tested in English. But then of course they could test equally as well in their second language, something their peers couldn’t do.

And CNN says learning a second language "makes your brain buff," and this science blog says it "makes the brain more healthy and more efficient."

So bilingual education is something to consider if you can afford it.  The "current tuition at EBI is $16,500," according to their website, but they say that finacial aid is available. (If anyone knows of a public immersion school in the area let me know!)

Prospective students entering 6th grade in 2012 wishing to attend Escuela Bilingüe Internacional need to have grade level fluency in Spanish.

In addition to its Spanish-English bilingual program, students study Mandarin as a third language. And in with the rate China’s growing, that should certainly come in handy!

The school says:
To learn more about Escuela Bilingüe Internacional’s Middle School program, families can attend an information session on May 3, 2012 at 7 p.m. at the Emeryville campus, 4550 San Pablo Ave. Emeryville, CA. Families can also find out more on the EBI website at:

Families can also find out more on the EBI website at: http://www.ebinternacional.org/en/index.php/site/page/188

JohnG April 11, 2012 at 06:51 AM
what if you're horrible at learning languages, how do you buff you're brain? RE: And CNN says learning a second language "makes your brain buff," and this science blog says it "makes the brain more healthy and more efficient."
Tanya Jo Miller April 11, 2012 at 05:11 PM
1) I could be wrong, but I imagine you get the brain buffing benefits just from trying, even if you don't master the language 2) I've learned (and forgot) a couple and one interesting thing is you do think differently in different languages

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