ACADEMIC RATIONALE
    

     As we continue examining the Puerto Rico Department of Education pedagogical policy for preparing our students to comply with the technological challenges and socio-cultural demands of the twenty first century, it is evident that we have to rethink and re-orient the teaching process. For instance, the teaching or Spanish and English must be re-oriented to be less structural and more communicative, that is, the whole language approach. It is a dire need to try new and diverse alternatives to equip the students with this integral approach. 

    Language is intimately linked both to conceptual development and social experience (Brown, 1973; Hakuta, 1990a; & Skutnabb Kangas, 1981). It is a tool for processing information which the individual receives as input about his, her surroundings and for organizing personal perceptions of his/her self in relation to these surroundings (Vygosky, 1962). Language is a reflection of how human beings perceive and interact with their world. In other words, language is the filter through which ail sociocultural experiences and understandings must pass (Alexander, Schallert, & Hare, 1991). 

    In a study conducted by Lladó-Torres (1994), she noted that even though Puerto Rican students receive twelve years of public school instruction they are not attaining a minimun proficiency in English and cannot communicate in the target language. In his study, Lloréns (1976) pointed out that the poor command of Spanish in many Puerto Ricans is due not to the teaching of English but to the poor instruction of the native language. He believes that the two languages can coexist. Research in. bilingual education acknowledges the fact that two languages can coexist. 

    It is clear, then, that to give the students more exposure than 50 minutes to learning English will benefit the greatly. The latest trends in school organizations suggest the block scheduling of 90 minutes. By means of this, the students will develop faster simple skills needed to develop complex ones and then practice all using the natural approach. 

    As far as learning two languages, Brown (1994) states:  “It is clear that children teaming two languages simultaneously acquire them by the use of similar strategies. They are, in essence, teaming two First languages, and the key to success is in distinguishing separate contexts for the two languages. People who learn a second language in such 
separate contexts are referred to as coordinate bilinguals; they have two meaning systems, as opposed to compound bilinguals who have one meaning system from which both languages operate.  Children do not generally have problems with "mixing up languages", regardless of the separateness of contexts for use of the languages. 

    Kenji Hakuta, whose main languages of research and interest are Japanese, Spanish, and English has studied the various circumstances under which these languages are learned, used, and lost. He has written extensively on diverse aspects of bilingualism. In his article, Bilingualism and Bilingual Education: A Research Perspective (1990 b), he sumarizes research in second language teaming as follows: 

  1. The native language and the second language are complementary rather than mutually exclusive. There is no empirical support for the view that time spent on the first language detracts from the development of the second language. If anything, greater elaboration of native language results in more efficient acquisition of second language: stronger first language proficiency translates into better second language learning. 
  2. The structural patterns of the native language have minimal influence on the patterns of second.
  3. language acquisition, especially at the syntactic level. 
  4. Language proficiency is not unitary, but rather consists of a diverse collection of skills that are not necessarily correlated. 
  5. The attainment of age appropriate levels of performance in the second language can take four to seven years. 
  6. Age may be a factor that constrains the acquisition of certain phonological and syntactic features of a second or foreign language, but not its academic functions. Collier (1988) suggests chat children between the ages of eight and twelve are the most advantaged second language learners, but age does not limit the acquisition of a second language. Some claim that the earlier, the faster they acquire both languages. 
  7. Bilingualism is associated positively with greater cognitive flexibility and awareness of language. The comparisons made of bilingual and monolingual children, as well as comparisons made of bilingual children of varying levels of development indicate that bilingualism can lead to superior performance on a variety of intellectual skills. 
  8. Skills transfer globally rather than piece by piece. 
  9. Expertise in translation exists in all bilingual children, demonstrating considerable ability to transfer regardless of content. Walqui's (1989) study, for example, has let a number of attempts to use translation as a way of enhancing metalinguistic ability and amplifying bilingual skills. 
    In her book, Soto (1997) makes referents to Peal, B. and Lambert's, (1962) study  in which they found that bilingual children in Montreal scored higher on intelligence tests than did their monolingual counterparts. Furthermore, they concluded that the balanced bilingual (one who has equal facility in two languages) has an advantage in terms of cognitive flexibility, conceptualization, and diversification of cognitive abilities. Lambert's Project, a Field study (Lambert and Tucker, 1972), was largely responsible for confirming Peal and Lambert's (1962) findings.  This project let the way for the initiation and replication of controlled experimental conditions by researchers (Soto, 1997). The examples of these studies, as pointed out by Soto (1997), indicated that: 
  1. Children raised bilingually were more attentive to semantic relationships than monolinguals (Ianco-Worral, 1972). 
  2. Bilingual children indicated superiority in awareness of linguistic rules and structures (Ben-Zeev, 1977). 
  3. Bilingual children outperformed monolinguals on a variety of measures of metalinguistic awareness (Cummings, 1978). 
  4. Bilingualism has a positive effect on divergent thinking and creativity (Torrance, Wu, Gowan, & Alliotti, 1970). 
  5. Bilingualism has positive effects on a variety of cognitive, performance measures, such as concept formation (Cummins & Gulutson. 11974:Bain, 1974; Liedtke &Nelson, 1968). 
  6. There are positive effects of bilingualism on Piagetian conservation and field independence (Duncan & De Avila, 1979). 
  7. Bilinguals demonstrated an ability to monitor cognitive performance (Bain & Yu, 1980).
 
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