According to Gaarder, “a bilingual school is a school which uses, concurrently, two languages as a medium of instruction in any portion of the curriculum, except the languages themselves.” (Gaarder 1967: p. 110) Often this is a long-range goal rather than an actual description of current bilingual programs.
The need for a practical, realistic, and effective educational approach for non-English-speaking children has created many new curriculum programs. At the present most schools are improvising with meager resources based on limited objectives. Many educators are reluctant to commit themselves to the major staff and structural changes needed to implement a true bilingual system of education.
Even the administrators who recognize the need for bilingual education programs find themselves confronted by such problems as: a shortage of bilingual teachers, a scarcity of appropriate curriculum materials, limited opportunities for teacher training, and a lack of funds. In addition to these problems educators face the major decision of choosing an appropriate model of bilingual instruction. (Cordasco and Bucchioni 1982: pp. 242-243)
According to Marcello Fernandez, director of the District of Columbia schools’ bilingual division, Bilingual education has become something of a political football, tossed between legislators and educators who believe it is the role of schools to foster cultural pluralism, and those who think schools should simply assimilate foreign speaking students as quickly as possible. (Education Week March 1983: p. 18)