Letters to the Editor. Advantages of bilingual education

Regarding your recent editorial ``Mr. Bennett and Bilingual Ed'' [Sept. 30], perhaps a compromise solution would be worth studying. Instead of cutting out the federally funded bilingual program across the board, let it be retained at high school levels. As a former coordinator for the ESL program (English as a second language) in a 16-school township that had, at that time, no bilingual program, I was able to watch the progress of non-English-speaking children from kindergarten through the 12th grade.

Normally, children in the elementary schools adapted well, and quickly caught up with their English-speaking peers. But children from Grades 6 and up who came into the school system from other countries were at a distinct disadvantage. Unlike the younger students, the older ones have a far larger native vocabulary to transfer into English; their language-learning abilities are less flexible; and the subject matter they must master is far more difficult.

I have seen high school students newly arrived from overseas faced with the challenge of not only obtaining passing grades, but of mastering four years of English and one year of US history, all taught in English, before obtaining a diploma. Granted they were placed in ESL classes; but without the added strength of a bilingual program to instruct them in their native languages, meeting the requirements was virtually impossible. Mavise H. Crocker Falmouth, Mass.

Bravo for your editorial. An important aspect of bilingual education is the growth of self-esteem in a child whose heritage is encouraged. Consequently, the afflictions of second-class citizenry are not given opportunity to root. Oksana Piaseckyj Duxbury, Mass.

The article on media hype made interesting and valid points [``Media hype: the perils of superstardom,'' Sept. 5]. However, many knowledgeable music lovers and musicians would disagree with the statement that Itzhak Perlman's dedication to music has begun to falter. Even when he is less than his very best, Perlman still deserves to draw a ``vast audience from hundreds of miles away.'' He remains one of the most remarkable musicians of our times. Monroe Cole Cleveland Orchestra Alvaro de Granda Gates Mills, Ohio Assistant Concertmaster Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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