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Dual Language Instruction – Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 9am on Peace & Justice

Written by on Monday, September 23, 2019

This Wednesday we’ll have in the studio Manatee School District’s Deb Estes, Director of ESOL, Migrant and Dual Language Programs; Susanne Peña, University of Central Florida Director for the Dual Language STEPS program and a doctoral candidate focusing on Teaching English to Students of Other Languages; and Geri Chaffee, Education Advocate and Founder of Dreamers Academy in Sarasota. Carol Lerner of Protect Our Public Schools, Manasota will be here also. They’ll talk about Dual Language Immersion.

Closing the Academic Achievement Gap – Dual Language Immersion 

Learning in two languages is not a new concept. All over the world most countries’ populations speak more than one language. English is taught in schools as a second, sometimes third language, from elementary school in many countries.

In the United States, there were about 300 dual language school 10 years ago yet a 2017 Rand Study estimated that number had grown to about 2,000. Last month, NYT article pegs estimates at 3,000. Dual language programs continue to be on the rise across the United States.

Why are so many states and school districts rushing to establish dual language programming in existing schools? Because it may be the fastest way to not only close academic achievement gaps for some of the most vulnerable students, but also as a way to integrate schools into culturally diverse communities that celebrate America. 

As school districts implement instructional models that work in schools with struggling families and students, dual language schools can be a vehicle to increase socioeconomic and racial diversity in schools by drawing more affluent parents. In fact, the biggest demand for bilingual programs comes from monolingual families who want to impart the benefits of bilingualism to their children.

Perhaps the most succinct explanation can be found in the research work of dual language giants Dr. Thomas and Dr. Collier, who helped North Carolina, the state with the largest percentage of English Language Learners in its public school system, develop a framework to deliver instruction in two languages. “Astounding” is the word Thomas and Collier use to describe their findings; prompting North Carolina to mandate that each one of its school districts must have at least one dual language program, in any partner language, with programs emerging in native American languages like Cherokee, as well as Chinese, Haitian Creole, etc. “North Carolina is where you can see the future of dual language education in America”, America the Bilingual.

This White Paper, written by staff of the Joint National Committee for Languages for purposes of informing federal and state policy, is a summary of Thomas and Collier’s book Dual Language Education for a Transformed World.

Manatee School District and Sarasota School District will soon have dual language programs available to students, with plans to expand in the next few years.

Manatee School District has started a dual language program at Daughtrey Elementary, with two Kindergarten classrooms. Sarasota School District has approved a dual language Spanish immersion charter school which will open next school year, August 2020. The University of Central Florida has received a federal Department of Education 5-year grant to support any one of Florida’s 67 school districts or individual schools that wishes to implement or enhance their dual language programming, and is working with both Sarasota and Manatee to guide them through the process.