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Small Business Loans – Encouraging Business Initiatives

Being a small business owner is not easy. Apart from the problems that the small business owners have to face in operating business, the severest of problems is in raising capital. It is not easy to raise capital for business use; particularly in an environment in which small business owners are accorded a status similar to borrowers with bad credit. Self employment is considered a bad credit case because of the unstable income generation through small business. It is said how a small business owner will pay fixed installments on a loan if he has not made much income (profits) in a particular month. Banks and financial institutions are thus not receptive to the demands of the small business owners.However, a loan can be designed particularly suited to the small business owners. Few lenders, who did not want to lose on the opportunity of lending to the rising group of small business owners, devised such loan. It is known as small business loan. Small business loans are advanced to small entrepreneurs who invest it in a series of purposes like expansion of their facility, buying technology, purchasing new tools and equipments, and also to buy raw materials and pay wages to workers.Lenders advance small business loans on the principle of moderate risk, which is no different from lending any other loan. The principle of moderate risk implies lending by keeping sufficient cover against risks. Therefore, while designing the terms of the small business loans, lenders are often seen to be using this principle. Take for instance, the rate of interest. The rate of interest charged on small business loans is higher than the normal. Similarly, lenders will only lend a limited sum on small business loans. These are sufficient proof of the manner in which lenders prepare for any risk that may emerge in the future.What differences can a borrower notice in small business loan, which goes in his favour? Borrowers can get an arrangement designed by which they can repay loan installments with ease. Small business loan with a flexible repayment schedule sufficiently solves the problem of the self employed people. Through a flexible repayment schedule, borrowers do not need to make repayments of a pre-specified amount and a pre-specified period. Depending on the income that they are able to salvage in that period, they can make repayments accordingly. Therefore, in certain months (or any periodicity chosen by borrower to make repayments) there can be underpayments, overpayments, and no payments at all (termed as payment holiday).However, not all lenders may be ready to accommodate your financial condition thus. If you consider the clause of flexible repayments so necessary in your case, then you must mould your search operations accordingly. With the help of brokers, searching small business loan according to ones desired criteria is not very difficult. Brokers are associated with several loan providers in the UK. When a person applies for small business loan to these brokers, they forward it to all the lenders who they think can appropriately advance loans to the entrepreneurs. The broker conducts the entire search operation. The borrower just has to choose from the large number of deals that the lenders forward. Brokers can also arrange small business loans from lenders who accept flexible repayment. Similarly, other specific requirements of borrowers can be incorporated into any small business loan searched. Brokers charge certain fees for their services. However, the best deal that these help to find will make the issue of fees irrelevant.Small business loans can be either short term or long term. A short-term small business loan is repayable in a period ranging from certain months to a year. Long-term small business loans on the other hand, advance money for as long as 25 years. Depending upon ones requirement, the small business owners can decide term of repayment and other terms and conditions of the small business loan.

How a Multi-Faceted Approach to Site Promotion Can Secure Your Search Engine Positions

Copyright 2005 Tinu AbayomiPaulIn my last article on site promotion, I talked about why using one site promotion technique is a short-term solution. Now I’m going to illustrate why site promotion is multi-faceted, and show an example of how these techniques can build on one another to help you get better search engine results from your search engine optimization efforts, as well as more traffic to your site overall.Then, in the next part, I’ll tell you more about what some of the components to site promotion are, and how they can work together to help you maintain your travel levels and search engine position despite the ever-changing search engine algorithms.Truly effective site promotion lies in using a group of tools and techniques to draw traffic to your site from many sources that build on each other, rather than just one.To illustrate how some of these promotion techniques work together and build on each other, we need to go back to the previous example of my own site for a moment.Each day, I get about 80 – 100 visitors to just my home page from search engines – this month you can verify that by looking at the referrer list at the bottom of my home page (see the resource box at the end of the article). As stated in the last article, visitors clicked through to my site for 1959 different keyphrases. 15% of those phrases yielded more than 10 unique visitors, with the top result sending 214 people to my site.That traffic is invaluable and shows proof of how you can use my multi-pronged methodology to enable you to get top rankings even for more difficult terms. The methods I use are a combination of different website promotion methods that have combined to keep me consistently ranking in first page results for literally hundreds of terms. One of the more difficult of these feats was ranking for the term “free traffic” in both Google and Yahoo on the first page.So how do I use other site promotion techniques to help keep my site from being dropped from search engine results? And how can you learn how to do the same?Okay, let’s go back to our example, and look at May again. The next most frequent way I get a visitor to my site is from someone clicking through to a link – 15 -20% of my traffic comes this way.My stats say that “1663 different pages-url” that were linked to me brought me visitors. The top three links back to me brought me over 1700 visitors. After the top thirty, most links brought me only 10 visitors or less each.But even when a site brings me only one visitor, having several hundred sites do this adds up to a lot of potential clients.So, obviously, getting links back to my site wasn’t the only important part of this particular method of site promotion. It was getting people to actually click through those links to my site. The trick is to get your link listed in places where visitors who are looking for your information will be, and getting that link to appear with keyword related text that you control.Syndicating your site via RSS is one of the ways that this feat can be made easier – but again, they are but a part of a well-rounded search engine solution. And there are certain things you need to think about when setting up your blog that yield the most search-engine friendly results, as alluded to in part three of this series.Do you know what else is important about having many links pointing back to your site? Other than the fact that, set up correctly, a percentage of people will click on them and visit you?It’s the fact that search engines often find new content to include in their results through links that follow back through to your site. That’s one of the top functions of the search engine spiders that crawl the web. They follow links that lead to other links, and so on, deciding how to fill a deficit in their databases with the sites they find.Not only that, but if the search engine algorithms should all change today, and state that quantity of links pointing back to you will give you only a little bit of positive karma, and that, from now on, only the quality of those links really gives you a big boost, if you used the methods I teach, including ways to optimize your links, you’d still covered.This isn’t particularly difficult to emulate – if you use a multitude of ways to promote your site to search engines, as well as other ways to increase your site’s traffic. Each one of the techniques builds on the others, helping you maintain your search engine rankings, and bringing new visitors from other sources. I’ll have a sample list for you and a few resources in the next part.

3 Steps To Identify Most Appropriate Travel Technology Solution For Your Business

Over the last 10 years, the travel business scenario has changed significantly. Today selling travel products is all about ‘best’ rates. To sustain in the battle to offer the ‘best deal’ and ‘best fare’ to the consumers, travel business owners have been forced to reduce almost all of their possible profit margins.I still remember when a service fee of $6 was a norm across online sales of air tickets. Commissions and contracts were available to travel agents. Cancellation fee on hotels were healthy.The emergence of large online travel agencies changed the rules of the business across the globe. Fuel prices and global economic conditions added to the challenges of earning healthy margins. Travel became the most competitive business. Commissions dried up. Segment fees reduced and “no fee” became the new best seller.On the Travel Technology side, along with successful implementations, I have heard stories of many failures where travel businesses were not able to derive what they wanted from technology. Most of the time the key reasons for failure has been:Over ambitious technology goal on a constrained budget Lack of ‘competitive’ Travel Technology expertise Poor IT team and management, suffering from ‘over promise’ and ‘under deliver’ In this ecosystem, how could a travel business set about defining an effective Technology Strategy for itself?As a travel technologist, I have many motivations to say “buy my software”, but in my experience that’s not a good pitch. After carefully analyzing various successes and failures in the industry, here is what I feel I have learned:Step 1: Identify what Travel Technology you needWell, it is easier said than done. Most of the time not articulating the technology needs well is the biggest hurdle in Technology Strategy. As a travel business, here is what you could do to clearly articulate the need for technology.Pen down the technology needs of the organization as envisioned by the business owner / key management personnel Consult with people external to the organization such as technology consultants, Travel Technology companies, GDS account managers, CRS / Suppliers and Travel Technology bloggers Let a technology company interview you and recommend a solution. This is generally free most of the times. Pursuing one or more of these three exercises diligently will build enough knowledge base about what your internal Technology Strategy should be. Identify and validate these thoughts with inputs from internal operations and marketing teams.Step 2: Build vs. Buy?This is considered the most complex question. The answer lies in dividing Travel Technology needs in three buckets.ProprietaryCustomizedOut of the BoxWhat is proprietary?It is important to identify your differentiator as a travel business. Most of the time, proprietary defines a piece of technology which reduces OPEX corresponding to your business operations or is the biggest revenue generator corresponding to your business model.What is a customized need?Is there any part of your technology needs that could be sourced through an existing technology solution, customized per your need?What can be out of the box?This might be the most effort intensive part of your technology needs and may require a tremendous investment to build. Getting an out of the box solution that meets the majority of your requirements and configuring it as per your needs, is the ideal way. How to evaluate an out of the box solution is in itself a comprehensive process.Now we come to the next complex part of this exercise.Step 3: Identify the right budget and vendorIdentifying the right budget and the vendor is the most common shopping problem in every business sector. It takes a lot of time and energy to reach to a decision.Let’s compare technology acquisition to the decision of buying a laptop. There are many vendors to choose from. There are laptops priced from $300 to $3000. Your decision to buy would be shaped by the life of the laptop, and the continuity of business (your work) it will guarantee.Similarly, the continuity of your travel business would significantly depend on the Travel Technology you choose. That is why identifying the right budget, and the vendor is a complex decision.I would attempt to breakdown the process of identifying a vendor into simpler steps since just asking a vendor for a quote would not necessarily help find the right one.Expertise – Does the vendor has expertise in the travel business?Support & Servicing – Travel is a service business. Irrespective of whether the product is ‘off the shelf’ or is being built for you, longevity and promptness of support is critically important to maintain a personalized quality of service to your customers.Customization needed vs. Customizability -What is the future customizability of the software? (Applicable to both out of the box or custom built software) Whether customization done today decrease future cost of changing the technology? This is an important question to ask and seek answers to.Value Add – Another important evaluation parameter for selecting a vendor is to check what part /component of the software is available free of cost and would remain so in the future.Stability – Your guarantee of service to your customers depends on the stability of your vendor. It is important to seek answers to questions such as is the vendor going to be in business for long? How are you safeguarded if a vendor goes out of business?References – Who are the customers of the vendor? Can the vendor provide references?Maturity – Is the vendor’s organization a product oriented and innovation driven institution or do they survive by making money from one gig to another?Empathy – Does the vendor considers your business as their own? How willing is the vendor to empathize with your business challenges?Budgeting for technology is also a little challenging. It may be worthwhile to look beyond the onetime fee and understand all cost factors, including the cost of extended support the vendor may provide during your business life-cycle.Cost should also include additional overheads of implementing technology, especially when you are dealing with GDS or CRS / Consolidators. Budgeting done in partnership with a selected vendor often yields the best results.I have attempted to lay out a model that would help travel businesses shape their Technology Strategy.As always, I would happy to hear your experiences and views.

Web Site Promotion – 3 Key Components to a Successful Web Site Promotion

Traffic spells out money in any online business. In order to generate increased sales and revenue, you must first know the elements that drive online users to a certain website. The best way to attract visitors is to promote your site using various techniques that are available in the internet today. Below are some of the ways on how you can promote a website:a. You can try developing article materials and have these submitted to free advertising directories or article submission sites. By having your article writings published on article directories, where your address link is embedded, you are significantly increasing the probability of your site to gain exposure and be promoted.b. You can also engage in some form of web logging. With web logging you can potentially promote your website by allowing people to take a peek on your web log contents. Also, you can incorporate your web address on your web log thereby permitting another mileage of exposure and promotion of your website.c. You can join and be part of a forum. With the forum, you can exchange ideas and concepts with other people who are experiencing dilemma about a specific matter where you are considered an expert. You can share some tidbits of information to these people and when the time comes that they will need further information, you can inject your own website address and direct them to your home page instead. It is a great, intelligent way to promote your site.Promoting your website can be relatively easy if you know the best techniques that are being used by most webmasters these days. By following the 3 simple tips mentioned above, you’ll be sure to have a popular website with steady readership in no time.

How to Choose Wedding Entertainers

Beautiful bride and glowing groom aside, the most important part of a successful wedding reception is the entertainers. Think of all the weddings you’ve been to throughout your life. Weren’t the most fun celebrations the ones with the liveliest music, plentiful food and drink and a touch of the unexpected?Wedding entertainment has evolved greatly from when your mother planned her special day. Couples have unlimited options when it comes to keeping those smiles on the faces of their guests. How do you decide what to choose? It depends on what type of wedding you have.Some brides give their wedding a theme, such as “Hollywood glamour” or “garden party.” Having a theme makes selecting wedding entertainment easier as you can group by type. For example, for a Hollywood theme have “paparazzi” photographers snap pics of guests as they enter the reception on a red carpet, set up an old fashioned popcorn machine or hire Big Band-style musicians. Keep guests entertained at an outdoor garden wedding with lawn games like croquet and horse shoes. A carnival theme comes to life with the addition of a cotton candy machine and fire jugglers and magicians.If you don’t have a theme, match your wedding entertainment to your location or family tastes. A zydeco band is perfect for a wedding in the South, while a luau featuring a hula show and fire show are a perfect match for a beach wedding in the South Pacific. If your family heritage is Mexican, consider a mariachi band. Scottish brides and grooms often have a bagpiper at the ready while leaving the ceremony.Remember your goal is to keep guests engaged while still allowing them to enjoy each other’s company. Many couples have slideshows at their receptions but make the mistake of running too long. Your guests will quickly tire of hundreds of photos of you and your beloved, so keep it to no longer than ten minutes. Wedding entertainment should be fun for others, not just the happy couple and their parents.Your main focus when it comes to wedding entertainment should be the music. Whether it is just there for background noise or you’re planning a wild dance party, your music is going to be heard by your guests for hours. Plan your other live entertainment around the band’s breaks, or make arrangements with the DJ to step aside in order to feature any special entertainment.Knock two items off your wedding checklist and save a few dollars by combining wedding entertainment with favors. A photo booth with funny props like hats and stick-on mustaches allows guests to goof around and gives them a fun token of your special day. A silhouette cutter is fascinating to watch and provides guests with a beautiful piece of art.Save your “big bang” for about an hour before the end of the reception, just as things start to wind down but before your guests begin to leave. A dramatic fire show is an exciting and moving way to entertain wedding guests and give the happy couple a grand send-off.No matter what you choose, remember to always sign a contract that protects your interests and spells out any and all charges, as well as verifying that the company you are hiring has all proper permits and insurance. The peace of mind you’ll get will allow you to fully enjoy your wedding entertainment!

Train Your Users When Implementing New Construction Software

The word “potential” is rarely used to describe the amount of success that implementing new software can have on a business. Many companies assume that they’ll be able to purchase and install new software and that they will immediately have new found success as a result. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case. The truth is that the best software in the world is only as good as the people that use it. In turn, the people that use the software are effective in using the software if they are properly trained.It doesn’t matter if your talking about construction software, manufacturing software, accounting software, project management software, inventory control, and so on…there are so many different ways to enter and edit data and transactions in any system.Therefore, it can be argued that the quality and depth of training that your end users receive is more important that the actual software you choose to use. If each user of your software is operating with different ideas of how to input data and what kind of data to input, the functionality of the software will suffer.So how do you make sure that your end users are properly trained?For the most part, there are three main ways that vendors offer training on their products. Of course, training can also consist of a combination of the following three methods, but for the purpose of this article, I will focus only on the following three training methods:1) In-house
2) Off site (at the vendor’s location or an independent location)
3) Internet-basedIn-house training is exactly what it sounds like. Representatives from the software vendor will come to your location and train your users to use the software properly in their “home” environment. This makes sense for several reasons. First, people that learn to use the software in the environment that they will be using it are more likely to become comfortable with the software much faster. Second, people are often more “open” in an environment where they feel comfortable, meaning they’ll be more likely to ask questions, voice concerns, and so on. Third, not having to deal with distractions like travel plans, staying in hotels, etc. allows users to focus completely on the task at hand – learning the new software. Finally, completing the training on-site gives companies the ability to look at old reports, data, etc. as they will be readily available, as will executive management personnel in cases where they need to be consulted on decisions involving software installation, data manipulation, etc.Additionally, a number of decisions must be made during the initial software setup that are much easier to accomplish when training takes place on-site. Things like job-cost or project-cost coding, payroll accounting, and purchase order tracking are good examples. A number of these decisions require specific information, which is, of course, much more readily available at the headquarters of the business that plans to use the software.However, on-site training also has a few key disadvantages. First, since the vendor has to send representatives to the customer’s site, the training is generally done over an intense period of a couple of days. Beyond the travel costs and time associated with this, there is also the issues of losing time for daily tasks that still need to be completed as well as the potential to give employees so much information in such a short period of time that all of the relevant information is not learned.Training at the vendor’s site or a separate location can be successful if it is possible to arrange for all key personnel to be at the training…and possible for the company fund their travel expenses. The main advantage of doing the training at the vendor’s location is that all the vendor’s staff will be available so that if technical questions come up that the “trainer” doesn’t know the answer to, those answers can be found.Additionally, completing training away from home has the advantage of reducing the distractions that arise at the corporate headquarters.Completing Internet-based training programs has the main advantage of flexibility. Training sessions can be scheduled for employees independently of each other, meaning some employees can handle the daily operations of the company while others train. This results in a much smaller loss in productivity during the training process. On-line training also has the advantage of allowing users to progress at their own speed. It eliminates the idea of users failing to learn all the necessary skills as they will be able to progress through the training program at their own pace. Of course, the downside to this advantage is that it could take longer to properly train everyone, which can delay the amount of time before the software is completely implemented and ready to use.In conclusion, the “right” software training for each company will likely be different and will depend on a number of the factors mentioned above. The most important thing is to ensure that training is done and that it is thorough. Training is one area where it is essential to ensure that all necessary resources are dedicated.

Social Media Strategy and Branding: Modern Brand Is Created Through Crowdsourcing

Creating a modern, pre-eminent brand in our New Media Era is done through crowdsourcing by digital natives through user-generated content. Crowdsourcing is the act of a digital media follower (“a friend”, “a follower”), in spreading content. This act was traditionally done by a brand employee or contractor. In New Media, followers communicate the content that the follower finds interesting and engaging. It is communicated to a friend, using a social media platform, like Facebook.The “followers” and “friends” are digital natives. Digital natives are a demographic group usually between ages of 11-30. They have been brought up on digital technology. They enjoy and are comfortable communicating with their friends digitally, most notably through platforms, like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.User-generated content is the material that the Natives share with their friends. The content is created in the form of posts, blogging, podcasts and vblogs, videos, photos, mobile phone video, and wikis. Social media has reconstructed the paradigm on which modern marketing is constructed. Marketing has changed from a “push” situation to a “pull” framework because of social media.In Old Media times, an organization, created products, and pushed those products upon the public. One way advertising campaigns were constructed to brand the product. In our new era, it is a “pull” paradigm. In this new paradigm, brands and consumers have a two-way conversation. The products take on an almost human dimension. A brand and a customer become almost like human friends. The general public doesn’t believe the claims of Old Media advertising. People do believe the recommendations of their “friends”. Modern consumers “Pull”, from store shelves those brands that they want to buy—the ones that are their friends. The ones that their friends have recommended. The benchmark for modern social media branding are the Ford Fiesta (The Fiesta Movement), and the Obama Presidential Campaign.The nature of our era creates an interesting situation. This situation has to be understood by a modern marketer in order to create strong, modern brands in a Social Media Era. A company legally owns the brand. If a brand is to be created, in this new era, the brand’s followers actually take ownership and develop the brand. Followers “pull” the brand and develop it. Followers create the actual brand in New Media branding.The Fiesta automobile and Barack Obama campaign created world-class brands through crowdsourcing. In both cases, world-class brands were created, and created very quickly, when followers took engaging material from a Facebook Page and shared this content with their physical friends in the form of posts, text, video, and blogs. At the center of crowdsourcing, and the thing that makes it powerful as a branding device is that brand is created by friends recommending products to their friends. This is how brand is created in New Media.To understand why crowdsourcing is such a powerful vehicle, you have to understand The Consumer Decision Journey, a concept created by McKinsey & Co. McKinsey discovered that a purchasing decision is the end of a long journey of many touchpoints in which the consumer is engaged with the brand over many experiences. Modern brand is created when friends recommend to friends products through the material they create in blogs, posts, video, and texts. This brand awareness development is critical in the selling of products.McKinsey, through its Consumer Decision Journey, discovered that friend recommendation makes a product three times as likely to be purchased. Crowdsourcing creates the brand awareness that creates world-class brands. The brand provides the use of a platform. The platform is a hub, a place where followers can go to grab content. This can be a website or a Facebook Page. The content can either be created by the followers themselves, or provided by the brand. In crowdsourcing, the content is then sent to friends from friends.Ford’s Fiesta campaign, The Fiesta Movement, revolved around Digital Natives. Ford did not spend a nickel on conventional advertising. At the end of the six month social media branding campaign, the Fiesta had 38% brand awareness among its target group, and it sold 11,000 units in its first month of availability, in a tough year for auto sales.In Barack Obama’s case, he went from being a virtual unknown, to winning the Presidency. Much of the credit for the success of his campaign was his brilliant use of social media. It was this campaign that communicated to business just how important social media is in creating brand.Dean [email protected]

The Flexibility Of An Online Education

Consider your current career. Now, add a traditional education to your current work schedule. It’s impossible to organize, isn’t it? Well, that doesn’t have to be the problem anymore. For business people who want higher education, they no longer have to add the schedule of a traditional education (visiting a campus) to their current work schedule. Now, online classes are available and provide the greatest flexibility possible. Never attend another class on a campus. Sit down at home with your computer and get the education you want.Online business degree programs are tailored to fit your schedule. Take as many classes as you can, depending on your work schedule, and finish the degree at your convenience. If you have less time, don’t worry because you can take fewer classes and still receive the degree you want. Sit down, look at your schedule and decide how much time you have to dedicate to your education. Once you know, then you can plan. Take your planned schedule and begin to speak to advisors and look for classes that work with your schedule. You will find the classes you need.The greatest benefit of online classes is the ability to complete coursework whenever you have time. Come in from work, eat some dinner and relax, and then get started on your coursework. Work at your own pace and know what you need to get done for the class. Build yourself a schedule for what you need to accomplish and finish the class with great performance. Having the flexibility to take class online around your work schedule is the best part. Never miss out on the career you are in, continue to make money for your expenses and climb the work ladder with your developing education.What do you think about the flexibility? Thousands of people are signing up a year to take classes online because they allow them to continue with their life and receive education at the same time. Flexibility is key in such a busy world. Whether you are raising a family or single, the flexibility is great for everyone. No one should leave a quality position to return to school and risk losing that position forever. Keep your position and get educated at the same time.Is it for you? If you’re not sure at this point, take time to consider all the details of an online education. When you learn more and speak to others about it, then you can make an educated decision.

It Is Time to Maximize the Power of Social Networking

Let me start by defining what I mean by social networking. I believe this is necessary because it is such a broad topic and there are many conceptions of what Social Networking is all about. With the broad conception of social networking in mind, let me give you a broad definition of the term. A networking website creates a community of registered users and repeat visitors. Social networking allows users to interact and express themselves on the website. Opinions are shared on these sites and users can have their own page of bookmarks or favorites for their friends and associates to visit.Just to make sure we are all on the same page, let me also define the purpose of a social bookmark. Simply put, social bookmarking is a method for internet users to organize, store, and manage their bookmarks online. The resources themselves are not shared. The user simply shares a reference or link that will take the reader to more in-depth information concerning the bookmark.A site for social net-workers empowers the user to fully express themselves through their own shared content and opinions. Through social networking common ideas and opinions are easily linked together. In fact bookmarking has become increasingly popular because they allow the user to locate, classify, rank, and share their resources and passions.Some of the more popular social sites are Digg, Delicious, Technorati, Flickr, and YouTube. These are common sites where you can dig a little deeper to find delicious content on blogs and other sites. Content expression does not stop with the written word. Images are found on Flickr and content rich videos on YouTube.One of the primary purposes of sharing and bookmarking on social networks is to lead the users back to your website. You give them a taste of what they are passionate about on your social networking site. The content that you share on the social networking site should stir up their curiosity and give them enough information that they will want to dig deeper into the topic. If your content is interesting and original, your reader will be moved to take action and click into your website. On that site you will give then the full load of content on the topic of their passion. The more content and information that you provide your readers the more you will be seen in the social networking community as an expert in your niche.It has been commonly assumed that networking on social media sites is most popular and more widely used by the younger generation. This is changing as users age 40 and above are filling the web with content rich bookmarks, blogs, and videos. Social networking is evolving into a venue where a person can tap into a wealth of rich content from mature users who have been searching all of their lives to fully express themselves and share their passions. Superstars and gurus on the web are now becoming common folk like you and me.In closing let me encourage you to fully express yourself through social networking. If you are young or old and want to learn more about anything and everything, the opportunity is at your fingertips. So dig in, the content, pictures, and videos are delicious!

A Case For Bilingual Education

According to a 2006 report by the Parliamentary Assembly Committee on Culture, Science and Education in France, “[B]ilingual education based on the mother tongue is the basis for long-term success.” Citing many of the known and accepted benefits of bilingualism and biliteracy, the Committee makes the case that bilingual education should be supported whenever possible, to help minorities retain their native language – and moreover increase their potential for higher levels of academic achievement in the process.Concerns that children who grow up with two languages will either fall behind academically because of it, or are at risk of not mastering either language well, have largely been disproved by research, the committee stated.”The language which is the vehicle of instruction has a crucial role in that command of it is the key to classroom communication and consequently to pupils’ acquisition of knowledge. A great deal of research has confirmed that types of education based on the mother tongue significantly increase the chances of educational success and give better results,” they concluded in their report.What is Bilingual Education?Bilingual education programs teach speakers of other languages academic subjects in their native language while gradually transitioning them into English-only classrooms. The majority of these programs in America teach to native speakers of Spanish, Chinese, or Navajo. Bilingual education is different from ESL because ESL programs are meant only to teach speakers of other languages English, while bilingual education programs are meant to encourage further retention and development of the native language while teaching English, enabling the child to develop fluent bilingualism and biliteracy.What are the benefits of Bilingual Education?Bilingual education teachers generally transition students from the bilingual classroom to the English mainstream classroom over a period of 1-6 years. This can be beneficial for one because it allows the students to continue their own academic advancement while learning the dominant language, whereas students who must learn a language and other academic subjects in that language often fall behind. By teaching children academic subjects in their native language while acquiring English, the students learn the language while continuing to progress academically. Furthermore, they become fluent and literate in both languages.Studies have shown that quality bilingual education can be an effective approach for teaching second language learners. Successful programs have found that developing and maintaining the student’s native language does not interfere with English language acquisition, but instead enhance it.The advantages of bilingualism are not highly debated. Some of the advantages plurilinguals have, cited by the Parliamentary Assembly, include:• An enhanced faculty for creative thinking• More advanced analytical skills and cognitive control of linguistic operations• Greater communicative sensitivity in relation to situational factors• Improved spatial perception, cognitive clarity and analytical skillsFurthermore, bilingual programs encourage the preservation of a minority group’s linguistic and cultural heritage. Children who are put into English-only schools from a young age will greatly lose their mother tongue and culture unless it is taught and frequently spoken at home – however it is all too common for second and third generation Americans to lose their heritage language.If the benefits of bilingualism are not highly disputed, why is bilingual education highly disputed?Common arguments and sentiments against bilingual education in America include the following:ImmersionThe argument is that if a person is not totally immersed in the new language, they will not learn it – that immigrant children should be totally immersed in the language and therefore be taught entirely in English right away, instead of learning gradually, because they will not learn as well with a gradual approach. Critics of bilingual education often believe that retaining and developing the first language inhibits the child’s ability to learn English. However, bilingual education supporters maintain that retaining the first language will facilitate learning in the second. Opportunities for immersion, moreover, are all around, whereas quality bilingual education opportunities are not.Insufficient mastery of the English languageSome express doubts about the success of bilingual programs in teaching language-minority students mastery of the English language, citing low test scores and poor reading skills in both English and the native language as a result of the programs. However, low scores can be attributed to the child’s social context more than to the effectiveness of bilingual education, according to the 2006 report by the Parliamentary Assembly.Furthermore, according to a 1987 study commission by the California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE), children in “properly designed” bilingual education programs learn English quickly and meet grade-level standards in English and mathematics in three to five years. The report used data collected from 25 schools in seven California districts to dispute the claim that bilingual programs slow the acquisition of English and keep children out of the mainstream longer.BiasSpanish as well as other minority languages have not historically been valued as highly as they should be due to prejudice and xenophobia. One and two generations back it was not acceptable for immigrants or natives to speak a language other than English in school, and parents did not teach their children for fear they would not excel or that it would hold them back. This prejudice still haunts us today.FearIn 2010 Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) banned Mexican heritage and cultural study in their high schools. They claimed that the courses were teaching Mexican-American children to resent white Americans and encouraging them to want to overthrow the US government. Although the school was seeing rises in academic achievement, the program was teaching minority students about their culture and not the mainstream one, and so the programs were cut. This closely mimics the battle bilingual programs have faced in America as well.Insufficient research
Moreover, it does not help that research on bilingual education presents its own set of problems. “Research on the effectiveness of bilingual education remains in dispute, because program evaluation studies – featuring appropriate comparison groups and random assignment of subjects or controls for pre-existing differences – are extremely difficult to design,” wrote James Crawford, researcher on bilingual education. Crawford, however, maintains that there is strong empirical support that native-language instruction does not inhibit or slow the acquisition of English, and that well-developed skills in the native language are associated with high levels of academic achievement.A 1997 press release from a committee of the National Research Council formed perhaps a more well-rounded conclusion. They stated that political debates over how to teach children with limited English skills have hampered bilingual education research and evaluation efforts. The committee recommended that research focus on identifying a variety of educational approaches that work for children in their communities based on local need and available resources. And indeed this availability of resources can be a major concern when talking about constructing quality bilingual programs, as well as the scarcity and demand for quality bilingual teachers.”In recent years, studies quickly have become politicized by advocacy groups selectively promoting research findings to support their positions,” said Kenji Hakuta, committee chair and professor of education at Stanford University. “Rather than choosing a one-size-fits-all program, the key issue should be identifying those components, backed by solid research findings, that will work in a specific community.”If bilingualism has an educational advantage, why don’t our schools support this advantage?Another often disregarded advantage of bilingual education in America is that native English-speaking children can enroll and acquire a second language. America is known for being one of the least dual-tri lingual countries in the world, with a bias toward English-only, while most other countries in the world teach many languages from a young age. The interesting thing is that most Americans would recognize the benefits of speaking two or more languages, although bilingual education remains a highly debated topic.Bilingual education programs have the potential to help encourage and support plurilingualism in America and ultimately improve our nation academically.”The view that bilingualism or plurilingualism is a burden on pupils is… incorrect – they are assets,” the 2006 Parliamentary Assembly Committee reported. “‘Strong’ bilingual educational models which aim to equip the future adult with real bi/plurilingual proficiency and, in particular, bi-literacy, have many advantages over ‘weak’ models which treat bilingualism as an intermediate stage between mother-tongue monolingualism and official-language monolingualism rather than as an end in itself.”