The National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education is funded by the Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs (OBEMLA), under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Education. Launched in December 1995, the NCBE web site resides at George Washington University and is maintained by its Graduate School of Education and Human Development. Partners include the ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education and the Linguistic Minority Research Institute of UC Santa Barbara and UCLA.
NCBE is a major electronic clearinghouse providing access to a treasure trove of research reports, full text journal articles, software reviews, electronic databases and directories, and a myriad of web sites and other Internet resources related to the theory and practice of bilingual education. Related areas such as immigration and language policy issues in the United States, educational technology, linguistics, TESOL/ESL, and cultural diversity and ethnic studies are also well represented. An efficient search engine is featured prominently on the main menu and elsewhere (a welcome necessity in a research-oriented web site of this size), and a well designed text-only version is available for users without graphics-capable browsers.
The main menu of NCBE organizes information in nine concise major areas. Of special interest to librarians will be the "On-Line Library" which provides easy access to full text journal articles, reports, recent bibliographies, and external resources such as the ERIC Digests and the massive TESOL Library. Elsewhere, a "Technical Assistance Network" functions as an electronic directory, providing annotated links to web sites and resources such as the US Department of Education, OBEMLA, state education resources and other on-line education clearinghouses, laboratories, development centers, and networks. NCBE users can also connect to a variety of unique databases, such as the Technology in the Curriculum (TIC) Evaluations Database from the California Instructional Technology Clearinghouse, and to NCBE's own bibliographic database. The "Language and Education" section points to highly useful web sites on the general topics of education, bilingual education and ESL, language and culture, technology, and publishers and distributors of various educational products. Many languages and cultures are covered, but particular emphasis is given to the twelve languages spoken by most Limited English Proficient students in the US, these being Spanish, Vietnamese, Hmong, various Chinese languages and dialects, Cambodian, Korean, Lao, various Native American languages, Tagalog, Russian, Haitian, and Arabic.
In terms of design, the NCBE web site exhibits exceptionally thoughtful construction. The organization is clear, sections are well named, and links are almost always annotated. Users are invited to provide feedback to the NCBE team, both in terms of individual comments or questions, and in answering specific questions regarding the usefulness of the site. The only suggestion would be to list NCBE's e-mail address prominently on all major pages, and certainly on the homepage. One has to hunt for the address even in those sections (for example, "AskNCBE") that invite questions and feedback. This however is a minor flaw that can easily be corrected.
NCBE will be a valuable site for faculty and students from a variety of disciplines. For example, the ethnic studies student looking for information on preserving Native American languages, the Rhetoric 101 student looking for both sides of the argument on the "English Only" debate, the ESL teacher looking for language software reviews or professional development opportunities, and academic faculty seeking articles on the multicultural classroom will all find information on their topics here. In sum, the NCBE web site is an authoritative and highly recommended resource for anyone interested in the intersection of languages, cultural diversity, and education.
Reviewer name: Susan A. Vega Garcia
Position: Reference & Minority Outreach Librarian
Institution: Iowa State University Library
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date of review: October 25, 1996