ETS Gándara Webinar

Video duration: 59:47.

On-Screen: [
Is there really a labor market advantage to being bilingual in the U.S.?
An ETS Policy Information Center Report
Patricia Gándara
Civil Rights Project, UCLA
10/31/15 Webinar
ETS, Measuring the Power of Learning]

Patricia Gándara: Good morning.

Daniel Fishtein: Good afternoon, everybody, and for some of you, probably good morning. Thank you very much for signing on. Our presenter today is Patricia Gándara, and she joins us from the Civil Rights Project at UCLA.

Just a few quick things about this webinar. If you are having trouble connecting to the audio function, you can join manually just by pulling down your audio pull-down tab and going to the "Integrated Voice Conference" and join or start conference. We would like to try to keep everyone muted throughout the webinar. We'll be taking questions at the end, so if you think of a question while Patricia or one of the commenters is speaking, please feel free to type it into the chat function. We will be reading those questions at the end so Patricia can respond to them. There, you can see the chat function on the right.

On-Screen: [Communicating With Us. We want to hear from you, send your questions and comments using the "Chat" feature. Please begin your chat with your full name and affiliation. Example: Dan Fishtein, ETS:]

Daniel Fishtein: The general layout for the webinar today is after our little introduction here, we'll have Patricia's main presentation. We have two commentators that will follow up with about 10 or 20 minutes of comment on Patricia's presentation and report, and afterwards, we'll have about a ten-minute Q&A.

On-Screen: [
Agenda
1:00pm – 1:05pm: General Information and Introductions
1:05pm – 1:30pm: Main Presentation
1:30pm – 1:50 pm: Commenters Respond
1:50pm – 2:00pm: Moderator will take written questions from attendees]

Daniel Fishtein: Those commenters are, today, Gabriela Uro, who joins us from the Council for Great City Schools [On-Screen: Director for English Language Learner Policy] and Shelly Spiegel Coleman, who joins us from Californians Together [On-Screen: Executive Director].

Daniel Fishtein: Now I'm going to turn it over to Jonathan Rochkind, who's the senior director of the Policy Evaluation and Research Center.

Jonathan Rochkind: Good afternoon/morning, everyone. We're very excited today to do this webinar, and we're very excited for all the great work that Patricia Gándara has done for the field. Patricia Gándara is a research professor and co-director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA. She is also chair of the working group on education from University of California and Mexico Initiative, where she's leading a number of California and Mexico education projects.

She's a fellow of the American Educational Research Association, the AERA, the National Academy of Education, the Rockefeller Foundation, the French-American Association of Science and Graduate Institute in Paris, and in 2011, she was appointed to President Obama's Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. Also in 2011, perhaps not nearly as impressive, Patricia joined our ETS Policy Evaluation and Research Center advisory council, where she brought to our attention the dearth in research and some of the new ideas and ways of collecting data to answer the question that we'll be discussing today, is there really a labor market advantage to being bilingual in the U.S.?

ETS worked with her and commissioned a series of papers on this. Those papers were collected in a single volume that's available. We'll talk more about that at the end of the webinar. Then Patricia wrote a Policy Information Center Report for ETS — and that's available online. You'll get a link, again, at the end of the webinar — that summarizes the work and places it in context. Today, she'll be discussing that. We're very happy to have her here. Thank you.

Patricia Gándara: Thank you, Jonathan, and buenos días to those on the West Coast and, Buenas tarde to those in the middle of the country and on the East Coast. We got into this, doing this research, because there was accumulating evidence that there were a lot of benefits to bilingualism. It's pretty clear that a lot of parents were understanding that there were such benefits. But one question that remained sitting out there was, is there really a labor market advantage to being bilingual in the U.S.? What do people think about this? Some people will immediately say, "Of course there is."

Those are often times the parents of children who are sending their kids to dual language programs. But other people would say, "Wait, not so quick. It may depend on who you are, whether there's an advantage in the labor market." Their suspicions would be pretty well founded because actually, economists have agreed, over time, that there is no income advantage for bilinguals in the US labor market. In fact, in many cases we find that there's actually a penalty. Many bilinguals, according to economic research, earn less than monolingual English speakers in similar jobs. Sometimes that's shocking to the people who are sending their kids to dual language programs, for example, but it shouldn't be so shocking when one thinks about who are the bilinguals in our society, by and large? If you look at large numbers of people, they tend to be immigrants, and immigrants tend to make less money than others.

We still were not convinced that this is the case, and particularly for these young people who are either holding on to their immigrant languages or trying to recover their heritage languages. So we set out to determine if this is really true. For example, if there is no advantage, why do parents want to enroll their children in dual language or bilingual schools? When we go through the literature, including looking at local newspapers and how people comment on this, we find one North Carolina mother with a son in a two-way, dual-immersion program quoted as saying, "All I could think of was him getting a much better job when he finishes high school." The question remains will he?

[minor technical difficulties were experienced during the live session]

How do we determine if this is really true, if what the economists have been telling us is true? First, before I get into how we approach this, I want to mention a couple things. The studies that I'm about to discuss are mostly on Spanish speakers because that's the largest sample that we have. That's the best data that we have, in the biggest numbers, and that's where most of the research has been done. It's important to note that we do also include other language groups in several studies, so we have findings for more than just Spanish speakers. On the other hand, findings are most robust for Spanish speakers, again, because we have larger numbers, and we can feel a little bit more confident of those findings. I'm not going to get into a lot of the statistics. For those of you who are very interested in the methods that we used, all of that is available in the book, and most of it is available in the report that you will be able to access at the end of this.

How do we really determine if this is true? The report is a companion to a book.

On-Screen: [book titled "The Bilingual Advantage: Language Literacy, and the U.S. Labor Market", edited by Rebecca Callahan and Patricia Gándara].

Patricia Gándara: I think I've mentioned that. If you read the book, you'll see that, in many ways, this is a detective story. We're looking for something we were convinced, in our hearts, had to exist, but we've been told by various economists, over time, that it did not.

The first section of the report, it opens — we do kind of an introduction, and then we reference Reynaldo Macias' contributions to this series of studies, in which he deals with the history of discrimination against languages other than English. Reynaldo suggests that lower wages for bilinguals may be related to long-term discrimination. This will come up again as we look at the other studies that were done. In the next part of this first section, we review a study by the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, D.C., that looks at the differences in Hispanic subgroups. This becomes really important because different subgroups have very different profiles in the economy and in the labor market. There are significant differences in earnings by group. But this study especially points out the differences in literacy among subgroups. This finding comes to foreshadow very important findings later in the studies that I'm going to discuss.

In this second section of the report are a series of studies that attempt to "uncover the errors" in the previous studies. As I said, we were convinced that there had to be something out there, but we weren't finding it, so we tentatively concluded that there must have been errors. There must have been something wrong with these earlier studies that had been done by various economists. All of these economists had used census data, the American Community Survey, in particular. We asked several research partners to take a look at the way they'd used the data. Was there something wrong in what they had done? The first study that we report in here is by Joe Robinson-Cimpian, who's at the University of Illinois. Joe looks at the research that's been done and tries to replicate it and see where the errors might be, but Joe finds the same thing. Bilingual Latinos — he focuses here on Latinos — do earn less than monolingual Latinos, but he suggests that maybe we need to look at females separately, which hadn't been done in the literature. This is not a very exciting finding for us.

We're continuing to think there must be an advantage somewhere, so we asked Amado Alarcon, who is a professor at the University of Barcelona, and his colleagues to try to answer the next question. Maybe across the board we're not going to find these advantages, but surely in areas like health and safety, where language can be absolutely critical, it can mean life or death in situations where police or health personnel need to communicate with individuals, there must be a difference here. Then, just to add to that, was let's look along the border. Let's look along Texas, Arizona, California border, where there is a high demand for bilingualism. We're looking at high demand in areas that are of critical importance, and what do our researchers find? You can see the answer right there. No, they're not earning more money, and they seem to be left out of many of the higher-paying jobs. Education credentials trump language skills. If you have a degree, that's much more important than if you are bilingual and can actually communicate with folks.

The next obvious question for us, we went back to Amado Alarcon and his colleagues and asked, "What about, then, in an area where there's high demand, folks really need to be able to speak with their clients or the individuals with whom they're working, but there's less supply of workers?" We moved away from the border to the Dallas area, where there's still very high demand, but not the supply of bilinguals that there is along the border. Once again, we find that bilingual workers do not earn more than monolinguals in similar jobs. Here, the authors hark back to Reynaldo Macias' work that hints at discrimination, either indirect or through less access — indirectly through less access to education. In other words, because these bilinguals don't have as much access to high-level education, maybe this is it, or maybe it's actually direct discrimination. In any case, this leaves us with kind of a sorry tale, at this point. We have to ask ourselves, can that North Carolina mom, who thinks that her child is going to have all of these great labor market benefits at the end of his dual language program, is it that she's wrong?

We did not give up. In the third section of the report, things begin to take a different turn. This looks at studies with new data and that follow young people who are just entering the labor market. At this point, we kind of regrouped, looked around at the situation, and decided maybe those census data are not the best data to be using to ask these questions. Maybe just looking at folks of all ages across the whole course of their lives is not the right age group to be looking at. Here, we have to take a look at different sets of data. We asked Orhan Agirdag, who is a professor at the University of Amsterdam — and I'm sure, by now, you are beginning to notice that we have a very international team looking at these questions. This is something of great interest to people not just in the U.S., but beyond. Orhan using two datasets. He includes in this the NELS — the National Educational Longitudinal Study that's begun in 1988 with high school students — and he also looks at another dataset, which was created by Ruben Rumbaut, which I'm going to talk about in just a minute.

He compares the children of immigrants who are now in their late 20s and early 30s, who lose their bilingualism, with those who retain it and who are biliterate. In other words, he begins to define for us, now, balanced bilinguals, individuals who have literacy in two languages, and individuals who are still young and entering the labor market. What Orhan finds is not only do balanced bilinguals earn more, contrary to what economists had told us — other economists — but monolinguals lose $2,000 to $3,000 annually as a result of losing their home language.

Orhan followed this up a year later, which actually does not show up in this report, but I think he's reported it elsewhere, that using newer data from the ELS study showed. These are beginning with young people who — in 2002 — show an even greater loss in income, more like $5,000 annually lost by having lost their native language. The conclusion here is that not being bilingual is associated with significant cost.

This is followed up in this third section with a study by Lucrecia Santibanez and Maria Zarate, who used this Educational Longitudinal Study data, individuals who are now in their mid-20s, and find that balanced bilinguals — and they're talking here about both Spanish language speakers and Chinese speakers — go to college at higher rates. In a really important finding, they find that Spanish-speaking bilinguals go to four-year colleges at higher rates. This, I think, is an extraordinary finding that we really need to pay attention to because we know that Latinos, Spanish speakers, are the subgroup that is least likely to get a college degree by yards, by a tremendous amount. We also know that one of the big reasons for that is that they tend to go to two-year colleges and not make the transfer. The fact that they find that these Spanish-speaking bilinguals and biliterates go to four-year colleges at higher rates has tremendously important policy implications. Of course, getting a college degree increases their earnings dramatically. Once again, we can say that if you are a biliterate, if you're a balanced bilingual, the likelihood of earning more money is really quite great. They argue, as an explanation for why this happens that these individuals are likely to have broader social networks. They basically have two teams who are cheering for them.

Then finally, in this section we end with a study by Ruben Rumbaut. He is the source, actually, of some of the data that were analyzed by Orhan earlier. He has two datasets that he's developed, the CILS and the IMMLA. You can find what that stands for in the report. He merges these with over 5,000 subjects in their late 20s. Again, so you're noticing all of these people that are being studied are now individuals who have recently completed their education and are entering the labor market. All of these are from southern California, including various ethnicities. He has a lot of different ethnic groups in here, basically the composition of southern California. Ruben finds that balanced bilinguals — again, this is very important, this notion of balanced bilinguals and biliterates — drop out of high school at lower rates than those who have lost their language, earn more than monolinguals and weak bilinguals, hold higher status occupations. This turns out to be true for all language groups.

This is a slide from his section of the report, in which he looks at the annual earnings of bilinguals, controlling for GPA and total years of education. They're not earning more money because they have more education or because they did better in school. We can have some confidence that they are earning more money because they are biliterate. You notice here what's important about this overhead is that you notice that the more bilingual you are, the more the payoff is. Those limited bilinguals are making considerably — there's a considerably smaller gap than for those who are moderate. It's the fluent bilinguals, the balanced bilinguals, who have the greatest advantage here.

On-Screen: [
Bar chart titled Annual Earnings of Bilinguals Controlling for GPA and Total Years of Education, Rumbaut (2014).
Model 1 Fluent bilingual $2,827
Model 1 Moderate bilingual $2,425
Model 1 Limited bilingual $1,258
Model 2 Fluent bilingual $2,234
Model 2 Moderate bilingual $1,876
Model 2 Limited bilingual $1,078]

Footnote: Regressions of annual earnings on level of bilingualism among young adults from Southern California. Model 1 controls for age, gender, ethnicity, parents' socioeconomic status, and living with parents (while native-parentage English monolingual individuals are the reference group). Model 2 controls in addition for high school GPA and total years of education attained in adulthood. Bilingualism levels are measured on a 4-item scale of ability to understand, speak, read, and write the non-English language (fluent bilingual = very well on all four, moderate = well on all four, limited = less than well). Earnings (regression coefficients) in annual dollars, net of other variables in the models. Results for fluent and moderate bilingual individuals are significant at p<.001, for limited bilingual individuals at p<.05. Data from immigration and intergenerational Mobility in Metropolitan Los Angeles Study (IMMLA) and Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS) San Diego merged samples.]

Patricia Gándara: I just simply make the point again that in all of the last three studies, the stronger the dual language skills — in other words, the greater the biliteracy, the stronger were the effects.

To summarize a bit here, what was the difference between those old studies — and there are a number of them that told us that there is no advantage in the labor market for bilinguals — and the new studies that were conducted? There's better data that allowed us to know about literacy. Literacy matters. The census data told us nothing about that, but when we start looking at if individuals are biliterate, our findings come out very different. There are analyses by different levels of bilingualism, and especially we find the effects for balanced bilinguals. We're looking at an age group that is emerging into a global and interconnected economy. Being able to speak another language, being able to communicate with folks across cultural borders, turns out to be very important in our modern world because it's a different world out there.

The conclusions to this are that balanced bilingualism — in other words, biliteracy — pays.
It also results in better educational outcomes. You'll recall the particular outcome for Latinos going to four-year colleges was a very important one. We come to conclude over the years, we've made a lot of bargains with the devil, I would say, to provide English-only instruction for our English learners, and at best, at most, provide some kind of transitional bilingual education, so that they can be helped along while they're getting into English. We certainly have not been dedicating very much attention to helping them to maintain those languages that they bring from home. It turns out that's not where the payoff is. It's true that it's important to speak English, but maintaining immigrant languages gives them an extra leg up. We were able to find, through this kind of detective story that we did — it's a detective story, but through the process of looking under rocks here for where is the real truth of this — that biliteracy, indeed, does pay off.

We did a couple of studies after we did the report for ETS, and those are in the book. Here, we're looking at what employers have to say about things. There, we find that not all employers pay more for this. It isn't necessarily that you show up for the job and they give you all this extra pay for being bilingual or being biliterate, but we found that even in those situations, the bilinguals tend to make more money. That seems to be for a variety of reasons, that their jobs are more secure, that they get placed — they are more mobile in their jobs, moving upward, and they make better connections with clients. We did find, across the board, across all kinds of employment sectors, that they definitely get hired over monolinguals. If you are bilingual and you have similar credentials to somebody who is monolingual, you've got the job.

I'll turn now to a couple of important links, where you can get the report and download it, and also where you can order the book, if you're interested in the whole story, including those additional studies that were added later on. The publisher is offering this amazing discount, 50%, so I think the book ends up costing about $20 or something. If you're interested, there's the promo code, and there are the contacts.

On-Screen: [
Access the ETS Achievement Gap Website at www.ets.org/achievementgap to read the report and later view a video of this Webinar.
Order the Book "The Bilingual Advantage: Language Literacy, and the U.S. Market" at http://www.multilingualmatters.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781783092413%20. Use promo code BILADV50 to receive a 50% discount.
Note: these links will be sent to you after the webinar.]

Patricia Gándara: Jonathan?

Jonathan Rochkind: Yes, thank you so much. That was fantastic. We're now going to hear from two commentators, one on the policy perspective, and one more on the practitioner perspective. Our first commentator is Gabriela Uro, the director for English Language Learner Policy and Research for the Council of Great City Schools.

[minor technical difficulties were experienced during the live session]

Gabriela Uro: Thank you. Thank you, Patricia. It's a pleasure to hear you over cyberspace, here. I first want to say I'm really excited about this work. Just like Patricia had mentioned in her presentation, a lot of us are asking this question about — we have a sense that there are definitely benefits to being bilingual, and especially biliterate, and yet there was really no place to go to actually have research and data to substantiate that. I'm an avid consumer of research, so I was incredibly happy to see this compilation of work, because it really does help inject robust research into what is often an acrimonious debate and actually, quite frankly, very unproductive, especially at the policy levels — national level, but also at the different states.

I think it's important that it addresses the issues not only in a very robust, methodical fashion, but also in a multidisciplinary approach. This issue is something that is an issue that has to be looked at from a whole variety of approaches and layers, if you will. I think that is going to be incredibly important for us as educators and folks that really are administering programs for English language learners and, quite often, programs — or language programs, in general. It was actually quite interesting, but also just very helpful to have this type of examination of bilingualism in a multifaceted way.

I think the importance for me about this research is going to be disseminating it to the educational leaders and actually having them process it and digest it and understand what it means. One of the things that I found troubling, though, was in looking at the data, what does it mean for English language learners to become biliterate versus English-proficient students to become biliterate in another language? I think that bears out in the research by Reynaldo Macias also looking at, later on, hiring practices.

I think for our educators who are in the mix of all of that, making sure that they're designing programs that not only address the linguistic aspect, but really the robust learning that has to take place, they need to understand what the context of those students. Where are they going? What's the global market they're going to be entering when they graduate? For me, the challenge is going to be making sure that I can dig into a lot of the data and make it accessible for folks that are working on a day-to-day basis with these students.

I was really excited and very much interested in seeing how we, again, share this information with folks. Is the final conclusion — and I'm so happy that, Patricia, you persevered and didn't give up with the sad tale and actually were able to get to a point where you actually had a much better understanding of what is going on with developing bilingualism in this nation. I think one of the things that maybe you forgot to give yourself a pat on the back for, one of the key things that was different this time in the study, was the question that was posed. I think in previous research, the question was already a little bit of a lost question there. It was a gamble, in that people were already thinking it can't possibly be a good thing.

I think one of the things that was helpful in this new set of research was that there was a positive aspect or sense about being bilingual. For me, the key piece about biliteracy is that right now, our districts are struggling with implementing higher standards. These might be called Common Core in various states or might be called something else, but the bottom line is the level of rigor demanded in these standards is significantly higher, especially when you're looking at language demands.

What is critical for folks to understand is that the dual language programs are great, and sometimes they come into our district as a fad, unfortunately, but what has to happen is the quality of programming in those instructional models has to be second to none, so that students that are in those programs, whether they're English learners or not, have to come out being incredibly literate in both languages. That's just going to give them the benefits. If there are programs that are substandard and you really don't have the quality that is required, you're going to end up with benefits not really accruing, especially to English language learners.

My final thing that I wanted to mention, though, that I found quite disturbing was the data in the studies that go back to Reynaldo Macias talks about in the very beginning, in the first part of the report, but then what mentioned, as well, as about the employers' practices about hiring bilinguals. I must say that even applies to our school districts. This is a challenge that I, personally, want to face with our membership of looking at how do we compensate and how do we recruit and hire individuals who are bilingual, and then compensate them in a way that keeps them in these jobs, but also helps them even rise?

We're finding that in many places, everybody will tell you that they are needing bilingual speakers, that there's a shortage of individuals that speak a whole host of languages, yet, when you look at the way they are paid, there really is no differential. So I think the data that I learned right now through this report, it bears out also with our districts. That's something that is troubling and I think we're going to have to confront as a nation.

I know has been successful in a number of lawsuits, in terms of defending language rights in a number of situations with employers. However, beyond the courts, we really need to work with the minds of the general public and employers, including our school districts, to make sure that they value and pay for bilingualism, as it will be required in the future for this country just to compete in the global economy.

For me, the takeaway, clearly, is hiring, that I just mentioned, but then also the quality for the schooling — the programs and the quality of the programs, especially around dual language programs or any language instructional program and how it has to be hand in hand with high-quality rigor in all content areas. Thank you.

Jonathan Rochkind: Thank you very much, Gabriela. I want to remind everybody that after our next commentator, which we're very excited to hear from, we'll be having Q&A. Feel free, as some of you have already here, to type your questions now, as you think about it, into the chat part of the webinar. That's on the bottom right of your screen. Then we will read them out loud.

Now I'd like to introduce Shelly Spiegel-Coleman, the executive director of Californians Together. Shelly is working through a phone line here, so we hope that the reception is clear because we know the content is going to be very clear.

Shelly Spiegel-Coleman: Good morning and good afternoon, everybody. I'm part of this webinar and to share this incredible piece of work that she's done that I think has implications for us in the education community across the entire United States. In California, with our organization, Californians Together, we're a coalition of 25 parent, professional, and civil rights groups focused on policy and practice for English learners. We have been looking at, for the last 10–15 years, the issue of bilingualism and biliteracy and trying to put it in a positive light, trying to be able to demonstrate to the parents and educators of the community about the talented gift our students bring to our schools who speak multiple languages in California.

What we did to capitalize on that is to try and hold up and honor the bilingualism and biliteracy of so many of our students as we created the California State School of Biliteracy. In a very simple fashion, what this means is that our state has eligibility criteria that establishes a level of proficiency in English and another language. Students who meet those criteria receive a state seal that is affixed to their diploma or to their transcript, indicating that they are bilingual and biliterate. That law, which passed in 2011, first took effect at the graduation in 2012. That very first year, with just three months of being able to implement the new process, over 10,000 students were recognized who spoke 19 different languages. Three years later, that number has more than tripled. This last June, we recognized 31,816 students who spoke and were literate in over 29 different languages, including American Sign Language. That brings us to a total of over 82,000 seniors in California that have been recognized for their bilingualism and biliteracy.

One of the questions that Patricia didn't share with us is that in her study about the advantage. They also asked the persons that were being interviewed from the ten different sectors of our economy, given two students of equal qualifications and one's coming to the interview with the state seal of biliteracy, would that make a difference, in terms of your employment? At that time, Patrician and her colleagues had to explain what the state seal of biliteracy was to these people, and again, the response is overwhelming that coming with that state seal and demonstrating your proficiency in English and another language, as well as bilingualism and biliteracy, showed a tremendous advantage in terms of being employed.

For us, this has an economic advantage, but it also has a different kind of advantage. We have seen, across the state, families of these students who are finally being recognized for their home language, as well as their new language. What that means for these families has been immeasurable.

Just about a month ago — no, two months ago — actually, right before the June graduation, I received a phone call from a mother who was desperate because her son had been out of school for months — he was a senior — with pneumonia. That was when the district had sent in the requests for the seal, and his name did not get submitted because he was out of school for so long. The mother was desperate to get this recognition for her son. She spoke to me in Spanish, and she asked me what she could do. I advised her to talk to one of her school member board members and to make sure that the district sent in for an additional seal because there was no timeline on that. She called me back about three weeks later and literally was in tears and said to me in Spanish that you have no idea how important this award is. In our Latino community, this is the most important thing.

I think we forget about what honoring bilingualism and biliteracy means to families and to the students, as well as to the economic and job markets. We have been overwhelmed by how this special idea has captured the imagination across the United States. There are now 12 additional states, besides California, who have formal state seal of biliteracy policies and programs. Those include Washington, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Virginia, New York, Hawaii. In addition to that, the public schools state seal of biliteracy programs, Detroit Public Schools and the Dade County Public Schools. This issue of bilingualism and biliteracy, I think, people are recognizing are really not only for parents or students, but for just the 21st century with high levels of communication skills and for employment, and as Patricia's research and those of her colleagues have demonstrated, a greater possibility of entering four-year colleges.

There are so many benefits that we can now actually pinpoint with this study and be able to take to our committees and say where are the programs now that lead our students to being able to develop high leverage, high demand skills that are needed once students graduate? Now I think communities that have been supporting bilingualism and biliteracy will be able to go to their districts and go to their principals and talk with their parents about demanding the kinds of programs that Gabriela talked about, high-quality programs, some of them being through immersion, some of them being extended bilingual programs for English learners and developing high literacy skills.

We need multiple pathways in our schools to developing bilingualism and biliteracy. With the work of Patricia and her colleagues, we feel now we really are on solid ground, and that mom in North Carolina was right from the very beginning. Our parents who see these children every day in these programs know that that's what they want for them. We're so pleased to be able to partner with Patricia and this kind of work be available. We thank ETS for making it available in an executive summary, so it'll be read by more people. We think that the book really is going to make a big difference for the kind of work that we're able to do in school districts across California.

Jonathan Rochkind: That's just great. Thank you so much, Shelly, and thank you, again, Gabriela. Patricia, would you like to respond for a few moments?

Patricia Gándara: Yeah, I'd like to say a couple words. I so appreciate these comments. I'll just say a couple of words. First, with respect to Gabriela's comments, she hits on the issue of the teachers, and this is so incredibly important. We don't go into that in this book, but it's the other side of this story. We must have the highly qualified teachers to run these programs to make this possible. I think what makes me a little bit crazy is that it is entirely possible to do this, and it has been for a long time. If you look at the numbers of young people we have of college age in California and Texas and New Mexico and New York, across the country — in California, for example, 45% of our college-aged kids speak another language at home.

Those potential teachers are out there, but we need policies that say we're going to put a priority on this, we are going to train these people well, and we're going to consider that this is a great service to the nation, and we're going to figure out ways that we can prepare these young people at minimal or no cost to themselves, because their contributions are enormous. You can probably tell by my voice I feel very strongly about this.

I also want to comment about the work that Shelly was sharing. Shelly and her colleagues were doing the work on the field of biliteracy beginning in a state that had banned bilingual education. I think that's really important to note. This was an incredible uphill battle. I think the important lesson from it is if you're blocked one way, then go another way. If they've blocked you off in the programs, try to think about how you can make this valuable to people, so that people want these programs, even in the face of policies that work against them. They've certainly demonstrated that. Real kudos for that to the folks who did that kind of work. It was amazing in the face of what they had to deal with. I'll leave it there.

There are a couple of things I might say, and if there's time at the end, I will, but I'd like to give the time to folks who would like to ask questions.

Daniel Fishtein: Excellent. Thank you, Patricia, and thanks very much for the excellent commentary. We do have some questions coming in. I will start with two that are sort of similar. Maybe you can unpack these as you like, Patricia. The first one is from Tonja Bickel, who asks "Can we say that there exists a distinct difference between being biliterate versus bilingual?" Sort of a similar question from Francisco is "What is the definition of bilingual used in these studies? Is it the same for all of them, or does it change depending on the study?"

Patricia Gándara: Good questions. Let me start with the second question first, and then I will move on to the other. Because it would be difficult to get into the weeds in each one of these studies in a quick webinar, I did not go into those kinds of details, but you will find that in each one of these studies, there is a somewhat different definition, a somewhat different use of the data to create a proxy for biliteracy. That ranges from people who respond that they use the language almost exclusively with family and friends and can read and write to other kinds of proxies, depending on the data.

You will find all those details in the book and, I think, largely in the report. We go into a little bit more detail in the book, but largely in the report, in part because in Ruben Rumbaut's work, he was very, very interested in this and asked very detailed questions. In the NELS data and the ELS data, we have to do a little bit more proxy looking for those kinds of details. Does it matter whether you're bilingual or you're biliterate? Yes, and I think that was a point made by each one of these studies. The closer they were able to get to defining individuals as truly biliterate, reading and writing at grade level, the greater the benefits were.

I think one of the important messages from this is that oftentimes immigrant parents, in their desperate desire for their kids to acquire English rapidly — and we can all understand why that is. This is totally understandable. Oftentimes, these parents will say, "That's okay. Just teach my child in English. I'll teach them Spanish, or I'll teach them Portuguese [minor technical difficulties were experienced during the live session]"
We want parents to understand that it's the schooling of these children in native languages that really adds a significant advantage.

That's not to say that being bilingual, in itself, is not an advantage. It is, but it's more an advantage in other areas, like identity, sense of self, the ability to have larger networks of people and to maintain relationships with extended family and closer bonds between children and their parents. Those are all advantages of bilingualism, but in the marketplace, in the labor market, biliteracy turns out to be the trump card.

Daniel Fishtein: Great. Thank you, Patricia. This from Dr. Sheryl Santos-Hatchett from UNT Dallas. She said "This is a five-year-old HSI public university in the heart of Dallas, 42% Hispanic, and we are thinking of starting a minor for Spanish for the professions to help our students achieve biliteracy, plus the content language they need in their major; i.e. health education, criminal justice, hospitality management, business, etc. Not all of our Latino students are biliterate, so we want to make sure we can graduate bilingual and biliterate. Are there any grants for this? Do you know of any other universities doing this?"

Patricia Gándara: I don't know of any other universities doing that particular type of program. There may be people on this webinar who do. I certainly think that's a message that needs to go to the U.S. Department of Education. One of the things that we note somewhere in this report is that Arne Duncan uses very, very positive language about bilingualism amongst our students, what a huge advantage it is to them, and how we really should be doing this, and yet we haven't really seen a Department of Education that has provided the wherewithal for people to do this. I think we need to start talking about that.

Daniel Fishtein: Also, Tonja responds — she says "The question and statement posed by Macias regarding, especially here in southern California, the discriminatory practices toward Spanish-speaking subgroups permeates the education system, as well as our labor force. At the same time, we focus on developing policy that establishes and protects the ability to meet this demand for highly qualified teachers. How do we address discrimination, especially in the K-12 classroom?" She adds that she's a middle school teacher and she sees the discrimination and how it's woven into the school culture and bilingual programs here.

Patricia Gándara: That is a very good question, and I don't think I can answer in a few lines about how we combat discrimination in our society. I will say that I think this is one of the great advantages with these two-way dual language programs that include children who are English learners, as well as those who are native English speakers are not a panacea. They don't solve every problem, and they have their own little issues embedded in them, but there is something very important about mixing these young English learners with other children who want what they have, who want to be able to have their language and be able to use it.

That's a tremendous affirmation about the importance of speaking a second language and the importance of the individuals who speak those languages. For that reason, and accompanied by the fact that it also does a great deal in terms of breaking down segregation and isolation of our English learners, we at the Civil Rights Project are pretty strong fans of the two-way dual language programs. We know there are lines of parents who are desperate to get their children into these programs, so it isn't that there isn't a market out there for them, also.

Daniel Fishtein: Thanks, Patricia. This from Anis, from Indonesia, who's studying at U of Pittsburgh. She asked "What is your take on global bilingualism in other countries, bilingual in national language and English? Many schools in non-native English-speaking countries implement dual language programs or global bilingual instruction. One of the debates has always been about schools' capacity."

Patricia Gándara: I think I've touched on the issue of capacity, in the sense that there's no reason why — if we didn't decide today that we needed to have X number of highly qualified bilingual teachers, we couldn't have them in five or six years, or maybe even less. The United States is uniquely capable of doing this with the tremendous amount of linguistic diversity that we have in immigrant populations, so capacity is there for the taking.

In terms of global bilingualism, we, in the United States, are not very good at looking at ourselves in comparison to other nations. We kind of think of ourselves as some kind of an island and a very special case. The reality is that almost all other developed nations educate their children multilingually. It's just viewed as a basic good education. We haven't really caught on to that. One of the caveats there, however, is that even across Europe, where children routinely learn two or three other languages besides — Mother tongue plus two is the basic policy, but they're also restricted to western European languages. Many of the languages that immigrants bring with them, like Arabic, like Turkish, are not really routinely taught in the schools of Western Europe. That's an advantage that we could seize upon because we have these speakers in this country, and we could develop these other languages with very little difficulty.

Daniel Fishtein: Thank you. This question from Vincent Hunter, who says "Balanced bilinguals seem to be a definition for young people. Do we have any information on market opportunities for older adults that are bilingual in the U.S., but not necessarily children of immigrants? Are the old studies correct about not being an advantage on being bilingual or trilingual in that case? Thank you."

Patricia Gándara: I think what I understand that question to mean is something that I was going to mention if there was time. That is we have not done the definitive studies. We have not answered all of the questions in this book. One of the questions that sits out there for me, I think one of the next questions to be answered, is how do the advantages for immigrant children or children of immigrants who have the opportunity to hold on to a language, how do those compare with individuals who come to these languages new? English-proficient individuals who choose to learn Arabic, are the advantages the same, are they greater, or are they less for those individuals?

There's reason to make an argument for any one of those. One of the things that I did not talk about and I think is very important is the added value of biculturalism or multiculturalism. In the study that we did of individuals in the labor force, we really heard from people about how important it was not just to be able to speak people's language, but to be able to understand them culturally and understand how their culture shaped their behavior. There's different pieces to this, and there's still a lot of good research to be done in this area.

Daniel Fishtein:  Thank you, Patricia.

[minor technical difficulties were experienced during the live session]

This question, this is from Gabrielle. "What are some good examples of school districts in the U.S. that have implemented dual language programs that could be used of models of a sort for proposing policy? Coming from Massachusetts, where bilingual education was effectively banned by a ballot initiative in 2002 that received 61% of the popular vote, I feel that there is little room for dialogue in examples of successful programs that would be helpful."

Patricia Gándara: When I get asked this question, I usually pass people over to Shelly Spiegel-Coleman or someone like herself who is really involved on a day-to-day basis with these different programs. I can tell you that I'm talking to you from Oregon, where I am right now, at the University of Oregon. There is a district here, Woodburn, in Oregon, that is doing some incredible things. They're taking their entire district dual language in Spanish and in Russian. They have seen, over the last few years that they have done this that their dropout rate has just plummeted, as families and kids simply feel much more connected and valued in the schools.

I would tell people to take a look at Woodburn. I would tell people to take a look at the Glendale Unified School District in southern California that has decided that it's going to go virtually all dual language in six different languages, I believe. I would take a look at the state of Utah, where the whole state is moving in this direction because they see a tremendous economic advantage to it. Yeah, check in with Shelly Spiegel-Coleman, who I know has a long list of really outstanding programs that people can look at.

Daniel Fishtein: Thank you. Thank you once again to everybody who came out today. As I was saying before, we will make the recording of this presentation, as well as important links to where to find Patricia's book and the reports, as well as to the ETS website on achievement gaps. Thank you very much to Gabriela Uro and Shelly Spiegel-Coleman and, of course, Patricia Gándara. Have a great rest of your day, and thanks very much.

Patricia Gándara: Thank you.

End of ETS Gándara Webinar.