Bilingual special education

Last Updated: 27 Jan 2021
Essay type: Process
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According to Figueroa, January 1999 combination of bilingual education with special education offers an interesting example on what should not happen in educational evolution and reform. In United States there is inconsistent interface between bilingual and special education offering basis for unique form of significant dialogue between United States, Latin America and Mexico on children education that didn’t not thrive in general education programs and who later wind up in special education or remedial classrooms.

The main arguments of this article are on psychological and medical underpinnings on current bilingual special education modus in Western Hemisphere that has survived its usefulness. Educational paradigms are the main focus to guide behavior of special educators in achieving learning needs of students with disabilities.

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Figueroa argues that, this is the time for diminution of the functions of regulations, with significance given on diagnostic and predictive evaluation, stressing on ritualized and detailed system for establishing Individualized Educational Programs with belief on power of drills, contingent reinforcement, skills and enough conditions for actuating high-order mental processes (Figueroa, 324).

Figueroa, January 1999 argued that, for the underachievers a different vision and a new skepticism is required for current beliefs and practices in bilingual and special education. For bilingual and special education, educators should increase use of presentations which is recommended as “do more” principle. Increased use of tests and state-based regulatory edifices should be used. Bilingual and special education offer more interesting strategy on educational reformation.

Despite the importance and strength of bilingual special education in United States, it lacks crucial components. There is no theoretical grounding that would serve in explaining and guiding bilingual special education with clear acknowledgment on the thirty year old literature and that questions the diagnostic, regulatory, pedagogical and structural foundations of bilingual special education (Figueroa, 326).

The article, Critical pedagogy in a Bilingual Special Education Classroom by Goldstein, 1995 explains application of critical pedagogical principles in first and second grade of bilingual special class for Latino children with limited proficiency in English. Teachers of bilingual special education face difficult challenges especially in evaluating learning disabilities. Those ESL students with disabilities are deprived intervention because teachers are reluctant in categorizing them with learning disability.

Teachers really struggle with question of examining ESL students and they have to understand the link between ESL students and evaluation for special education. According to Goldstein, 1995 teacher’s assessment on ESL students is wrong. Many students are miscategorized having learning disabilities because of their failure to respond to instructions they get from teachers (Goldstein, 463). The problem is that skill-based instructions don’t work in most cases and they even result in establishment of learned learning disability.

Goldstein argued that, bicultural and bilingual students have signs of learning disabilities not because they have cognitive abnormalities but because of difficulties to adjust to the dominant school culture. Teachers use innovative approach in educating bilingual students which is known as critical pedagogy based on theoretical work. This focuses more on the style of whole-language in teaching literacy. Teachers tailor their lessons on personal lives of students more so on social and economic difficulties they have experienced.

She concludes that many students in ESL have no learning disabilities and they negatively respond to instructions they get from their teachers in classroom based on the dominant school culture. The strength of this article is that bilingual students can not be evaluated in same way as those native English speaking students. The best way of evaluated ESL students with learning disabilities is by use of wide array of evaluation approaches like standardized testing on phonological awareness with close observation on students in multiple contexts.

The weakness part of it is that, this article doesn’t give full information on what should be done to the student thus more research should be done to find most cost-effective and accurate ways of evaluating ESL students. This problem is facing many schools and will continue to grow within United States in those non English Speaking populations (Goldstein, 467). The article, school-based bilingual special education teacher assistance teams by Harris, 1995 discusses establishment of school-based bilingual special education teams mainly on Hipic school situation located in urban southwest city.

Intervention and preferred screening involves identification of problems which students experience regularly in classroom, they identify the source of the problem either from teachers, students, environment or curriculum and finds ways of dealing with the problem in regular classroom. This eliminates unsuitable and unnecessary referrals to bilingual special education. Implementation of pre-referral intervention process in which teachers are helped in remediation of the problems should be avoided and help teacher remediate problems experienced by children in classroom.

This achieved through team of teachers, other colleagues and school support personnel. Teacher Assistance Teams should be used in selecting peers to facilitate pre-referral problem solving. This team discusses problems facing students and think of any possible solution they develop plan of action which is implemented by referring teachers (Harris, 418). This team decides whether students should be referred to bilingual special education or not.

To minimize cases of students being referred to bilingual special education, this pre-referral procedure helps teachers in designing and implementing educational interventions which is effective in the least restrictive environment and regular classroom. For the teachers to ensure that special programs by not using special education as a dumping ground for students with limited-English-proficient it is an imperative that LEP students be thoroughly tested. In each possible formal and informal evaluation process should be applied in determining functioning level of students who are handicapped.

There should be more research on development of language and acquisition of second language should be considered with research on cognitive development, neurolinguistic, psychological functioning and bilinguistic (Harris, 424). The article bilingual special education teachers shifting paradigms: complex responses to educational reform by Ruiz and Robert argues on nature and procedure of change among the five main bilingual special education teachers which are attempted in order to transform already existing instructional practices.

Change process is affected by three factors namely; more special education training of teachers in teachers’ background with their strong reductionism orientation, change which involves shift in instructional practices and shift in beliefs and they don’t obvious go hand in hand and at the start of stages of collaboration change is most facilitated including practicing members of teachers’ occupational community as agents of change (Ruiz and Robert, 624).

Paradigm of shift is a radical change in education system to cater for all students even those with learning disabilities. This helps in transforming people with severe disabilities academically. Programs and service systems which are more responsive to education of people with disabilities are used. Training methodologies and materials for those people with disabilities are used. Joining bilingual special education of those students with disabilities offer an interesting example on what should not be done in terms of educational evolution and reforms.

This article argues mostly on the psychological and medical reinforcement of bilingual special education with teachers shift paradigm to cater for students with learning disabilities. Education paradigm shift is used by teachers to meet needs of these students (Ruiz and Robert, 631).

Works Cited

  1. Figueroa, Richard, “Special Education for Latino Students in the United States,” Bilingual Review, Vol. 24, No. 1, 324-327, January, 1999
  2. Goldstein, Barbara, “Critical pedagogy in a Bilingual Special Education Classroom,” Journal of Learning Disabilities, Vol. 28, No. 8, pp. 463-475, October, 1995
  3. Harris, Kathleen, “School-Based Bilingual Special Education Teacher Assistance Teams,” Remedial & Special Education, Vol. 16, No. 6, pp. 419-425,
  4. November, 1995 Ruiz, Nadeen T. , and Robert Rueda, “Bilingual Special Education Teachers Shifting Paradigms: Complex Responses To Educational Reform,” Journal of Learning Disabilities, Vol. 28, No. 10, 622-635, December, 1995

Cite this Page

Bilingual special education. (2016, Aug 06). Retrieved from

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