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Defining "subtractive (bilingual) ed." (Re: "Language & Education in Mali")

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  • Don Osborn
    Just a quick follow up. I passed the question on to the MultiEd-L list and had a very helpful reply from Jill Kerper Mora, which I copy below. First I would
    Message 1 of 9 , Dec 3, 2005
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      Just a quick follow up. I passed the question on to the MultiEd-L list
      and had a very helpful reply from Jill Kerper Mora, which I copy
      below. First I would mention that there was a passage in a UNESCO
      report that I posted on this list a while back in message #79 that
      gives an ambiguous impression of what they mean by "subtractive." I
      read it to mean bilingual ed. that is used mainly or only to "move
      students on" to literacy in an LWC, with no plan for
      bilingual/multilingual proficiency or literacy.

      It says:
      "In regions where the language of the learner is not the official or
      national language of the country, bilingual and multilingual education
      can make mother tongue instruction possible while providing at the
      same time the acquisition of languages used in larger areas of the
      country and the world. This additive approach to bilingualism is
      different from the so called subtractive bilingualism which aims to
      move children on to a second language as a language of instruction."
      (UNESCO, "Education in a multilingual world, "
      http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001297/129728e.pdf , pp. 17-18)

      Another related issue is whether the late-exit strategy of L1 (or
      other dominant local language) instruction, as opposed to early exit,
      makes it less "subtractive." At this point I'm not arguing either way,
      but do want to suggest that the use of "subtractive" - a term with
      obvious negative connotations - is contested and and in any event may
      be misleading to use to describe the old monolingual French-only (or
      English-only) models. I used "immersion" in my earlier comments to
      describe the latter, but as Dr. Mora points out, that use is also
      contested. (Some have, only half-jokingly, suggested "submersion" for
      monolingual L2 instruction models.)

      From Jill Kerper Mora on MultiEd-L :
      "What determines whether or not a program is considered to be based on
      an additive or subtractive approach is determined by its goals and
      objectives in regard to bilingualism. Subtractive programs see L2
      learning as the major and ultimate goal of instruction. These programs
      are not concerned with building and or/preserving L1 abilities and
      skills because of their inate value to the learner, but may employ L1
      as a tool for learning L2. Therefore, transitional bilingual education
      programs are often considered subtractive because L1 is used
      temporarily as a tool for learning L2 and eventually phased out.
      Bilingualism and/or biliteracy per se are not the objective of such
      programs, even though they may be an artifact of bilingual
      instruction. The two program models considered to be additive are
      maintenance (also called developmental bilingual programs) and dual
      immersion (two-way bilingual education). In actuality, the term
      "immersion" was used by second-language and foreign language educators
      to describe additive programs that serve a homogeneous group of L1
      speakers of a particular language or mixed groups with two different
      L1s taught by fully proficient bilingual teachers with the goal of
      adding proficiency in the L2 while maintaining skills in L1. The term
      has been so successfully co-opted by proponents of English-only
      instruction that it has limited use now among bilingual educators. So,
      yes, this term can and usually does refer to subtractive programs.

      "I hope this helps. See my web page on this topic at this URL:
      http://coe.sdsu.edu/people/jmora/Pages/SEIvCanadian.htm "

      Don Osborn

      --- In Multilingual_Literacy@yahoogroups.com, "Donald Z. Osborn"
      <dzo@b...> wrote:
      >
      > Thank you Barbara and 'Tope for your comments. It seems we have a
      terminology
      > issue or two here. 'Tope brings up some more complicated
      considerations of
      > context that we should take up, but I wanted to address the quote
      Barbara
      > kindly supplied.
      >
      > As a non-expert in this field,* I been given to understand that
      there is a
      > different definition of "subtractive" than the one below. What they call
      > "subtractive model" I've heard called "immersion." What they call
      "transitional
      > model(s)" I've understood to be "subtractive bilingual approach(es)"
      (i.e., L1
      > instruction is primarily a way of getting to L2 instruction, and L1 is
      > abandoned as a language of instruction or discourse in favor of L2).
      Another
      > approach in the latter schema is "additive bilingual," in which L1
      is not
      > abandoned but continues to be used along with L2.
      >
      ... [rest deleted]
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