“Bilingualism and Special Language Programs” by Joseph M. GUZMAN
Joseph M. GUZMAN
This paper assesses the separate effects of bilingualism and special language programs on Hispanic outcomes. These dual phenomena are examined using the furthest downstream measures available for participants of English-as-a-Second-Language and bilingual education programs. High School and Beyond, a longitudinal study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education, provides these measures for a nationally representative cohort ten years after high school. I introduce a model of educational production with limited English proficiency and estimate the parameters of the model for four measures of labor market and educational outcome. I identify a large educational premium accruing to Hispanics from bilingual households. Overall, those from bilingual households, even when entering the school system with limited English proficiency, fare significantly better than English monolingual Hispanics. While Hispanics from Spanish-only households appear to benefit from pure bilingual instruction, bilingual household students who transition quickly to English, either through English-as-a-Second-Language programming or by receiving no special language programming whatsoever, perform better overall. These seeming inconsistencies are informed by the theoretical structure, which allows distinctions to be made between the language premium realized by home Spanish users and any premium accruing to bilingual program participants. The indication is that, for students with no prior English exposure, bilingual instruction may be quite helpful, but for those with some incoming English skills, even if non-proficient, the substantial benefits of bilingualism are available independent of early first language curricula.