Topics for the Term Paper

English 420 Online: Sociolinguistics
winter 2014


Topics for the Term Paper

For this course, all students will write a term paper on one of two broad topics--whether English should be established as the official language of the United States or whether bilingual education should be abolished. These topics have been chosen for two reasons. First, many valid sources are available, and I have supplied some very good research articles for you under "Additional Readings." Students should use these sources because they contain respected and reliable research results. In addition, students may use the books by Baron and Crawford. Second, both topics are of public interest as seen by the passage of Proposition 227 in California, which essentially banned bilingual education from public schools. Each of these topics will be described briefly on this page.
 
 

Official English

Several organizations in the United States including English First and U. S. English advocate for the passage of an amendment to the Constitution that would make English the official language of the United States. The organizations base their proposal on a number of claims. Other organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Education Association, the Center for Applied Linguistics, the Immigration Forum the English Plus Information Clearinghouse, and many other educational and linguistics organizations refute the claims made by the English-only groups.

 For this project, examine the reasons that U. S. English and English First proffer for making English the official language of the nation and the retorts given by the opposing organizations. Analyze which side seems to have the stronger position by citing valid research evidence.

 For this project, I have provided information on language demographics from a number of sources including the 1980, the 1990, and the 2000 census so that you can better evaluate the claim by English-only groups that the United States is in danger of becoming a bilingual nation. Make sure that you incorporate this data in your papers.

 Students should read the textbooks for additional important sources for the paper.
 
 

Bilingual Education

The same organizations that wish to make English the official language of the nation also wish to ban bilingual education, and again they offer a number of reasons to support their position. Their position seems quite popular as demonstrated by the overwhelming passage of Proposition 227 in California. However, most professional organizations of linguistics and education support bilingual education including the Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs, the National Association for Bilingual Education, the National Center for Bilingual Education and Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages--the largest professional organization for ESL teachers.

 For this topic, examine the reasons that U.S. English and English First advocate banning bilingual education and the retorts given by some of the opposing organizations. Analyze which side seems to have the stronger position by citing valid research evidence. Although you may use other sources as well, you must incorporate the research evidence in the articles that I have supplied.

Students may also write a more general paper about the effectiveness of bilingual education. Again, organizations such as English First and U.S. English claim that bilingual education has been a complete failure. Review these claims to determine if they are validated with real research evidence. Then review the research evidence on bilingual education. Have some bilingual programs been effective according to the research? You will find many sources of information on the internet for this topic by going to the Language Policy Web Site and Emporium. Again, also use the sources that I have provided under "Additional Readings." These sources include valid research findings. Be careful about sources that you find on the internet. The best research is published in recognized journals, not on web sites unless published by recognized professional organizations such as the Center for Applied Linguistics. Remember that organizations such as U.S. English and English First are political organizations, not research institutions. Do not write a political paper. Support all claims with valid research findings. Although you may use other sources as well, you must incorporate the articles that I have supplied.


Instructions for Writing a Term Paper.

English 420 Online: Course SyllabusEnglish 420 Online: Course Syllabus.