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Welcome to The Seattle Times' online letters to the editor, a sampling of readers' opinions. Join the conversation by commenting on these letters or send your own letter of up to 200 words letters@seattletimes.com.

December 3, 2010 at 4:00 PM

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Language gap lingers in American education system

Posted by Letters editor

Non-English-speaking students shorted by lack of second-language programs

Syndicated columnist Esther Cepeda makes a good point that there is a needed focus on the education of non-English speaking students in American schools [“Education’s language gap,” Opinion, Nov. 29].

It seems as though these students have been receiving less-than-satisfactory education considering their lack of English skills. Without fluency in English it is almost impossible for foreign students to learn and at the same pace as native, English-speaking students.

People have been ignoring this because they think current “English as a second language” and bilingual-education programs are sufficient. There are many cases where nonnative students are in no such program whatsoever, causing them to struggle to pay attention and keep up in English classrooms. This is also being ignored due to the large monetary needs for better programs.

Unfortunately, this system isn’t working and public schools across the country are suffering with mediocre academic performance. This certainly needs to be researched more, considering the percentage of foreign school-age children in the United States has risen by 10 percent since 1979. Integration of bilingual programs into all English public schools should be a given right, and will clearly enhance U.S. academia.

— Jack Van Den Boomen, Bellingham

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