Bilingualism and Bilingual Education as a Problem Right and Resource

Bilingualism and Bilingual Education as a Problem, Right and ResourceIntroductionBilingualism is not only studied linguistically, psychologically and sociologically, it is also studied in relationship to power and political systems in society. Richard Ru?­z first developed the framework of language as a problem, as a right, and as a resource as a way of engaging how we examine language learning policies. The three different orientations may be conscious, but they are also embedded in the subconscious assumptions of teachers, and politicians.

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Language as a problem

There are many ways to describe language as a problem. Public discussions of bilingual education and languages in society often commence with the idea of language as causing complications and difficulties. Perceived problems are not limited to thinking. Personality and social problems also occur such as split-identity, cultural dislocation, poor self-image, low self-esteem, alienation, emotional vulnerability. Women also have been classified as not being as bilingual as men, and the men being the more dominant language holder. A minority language is often connected with the problems of poverty, economic disadvantage, underachievement in school, political marginalization, less social, and vocational mobility and with a lack of integration into the majority culture. A language problem can also be perceived as strong forms of bilingual education.Language as a rightLanguage as a right can be defined in terms of personal, human, and legal or constitutional rights. Language as a personal right encompasses the freedom of an individual to speak in and to preserve his or her heritage language. Language as a human right refers to an individual receiving protection from discrimination based on their language choice, just as someone would for the religion they practice. Many language minorities has experienced discrimination based upon on their language spoken. Such language rights may be derived from personal, human, legal and constitutional rights.

Language as a ResourceLanguage as a resource chooses a pluralistic society over assimilation. Language as a resource is an asset to a community and is useful in building economic and social bridges across different communities. Language as a resource can be seen as way of eliminating the tensions that arise when discussing language as a problem and a right. Framing the discussions around language as a resource may helpful in engaging majority and minority communities in conversations surrounding the need for bilingual education. Language as a resource allows individuals and groups to play a greater role in world politics and the world economy. Language as a resource is preservation of heritage languages and promotes tolerance and cooperation between groups and is the central element and expression of identity. Languages as a natural resource cultural, spiritual, and educational growth for economic, commercial, and political gain.


In 1984 Richard Ru?­z suggested reviewing language learning policies within the framework of language as a problem, as a right, and as a resource. By using his framework this article examined the practices, policies, and outcomes of each portion of this framework. When reviewing language as a problem and language as a right we confirm that our United States bilingual education policies, practices, and outcomes are creating monolingual and limited bilingual students. From the above analysis bilingual education has existed for more than 5,000 years. Long before immigransts arrived in the United States there were many native languages spoken. Bilinguals and Multilinguals usually are found in groups. They share a characteristic of being able to speak more than one language. The effects that is has on families today, it opens up so many more opportunities for education and careers.


  1. Colin Baker and Wayne E. Wright (2017). Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism (6th edition) | Bristol: Multilingual Matters (2017) Chapter 17
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Bilingualism and Bilingual Education as a Problem Right and Resource. (2019, Nov 07). Retrieved November 29, 2022 , from

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