The Role of the Vernacular in Transitional Bilingual Education
The professional literature abounds in studies stressing the philosophical as well as socio-political difference that holds between a maintenance-oriented and a transition-oriented bilingual program. However, there need not be any conflict between these two approaches, if, one, the maintenance of the vernacular code is stressed by means of a stable and balanced distribution of the two languages, rather than a gradual decrease of the use of the vernacular as some degree of proficiency in the nonvernacular tongue is being achieved; two, if the use of the vernacular as a medium of instruction is limited to the child’s primary years (grades K to 3); and finally, if provisions are made for the child to understand that, even though the school language is the nonvernacular code from grade 4 on, the use of the vernacular outside the classroom is appropriate in a variety of home-, church-, and community-related situations. The value of the use of the vernacular code for the child during his early years of instruction is to provide time for him to make the needed emotional adjustment to the presence, in the country as a whole, of a language other than the one he speaks at home. The emphasis on an affective component in bilingual education seeks to accomplish for the child three goals, i.e. to reach the threshold level in his native language, to develop simultaneously the language skills in the second language that enable him to function well in a nonvernacular class environment after grade 3, and to allow sufficient time for the child to make the adjustment to the fact that his two codes are distributed in very specific ways.
KeywordsBilingual Education Home Language Bilingual Child Dual Language Bilingual Program
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