The District has put together this list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding our Dual Language Program based on questions received from the community and common questions about Dual Language programs in the United States.
Is there a need for Dual Language in the Huntley area?
Our world is becoming increasingly multilingual. In Huntley 158, 10% of students are considered English Learners, comparable with the state average. In addition, 50% of Huntley 158 students come from Spanish-speaking homes. Demographic changes both locally and globally suggest that the need for bilingual instruction will continue to grow in coming years.
In addition, Dual Language holds a number of benefits for native English speakers as well, and the District has received significant interest from families in a Dual Language program for this population.
How do students in Dual Language programs compare academically to students in other types of educational programs?
Several investigators have examined the reading and math achievement of students in dual language programs at late elementary or secondary levels to determine the long-term impact of DUAL LANGUAGE programs (e.g., Cazabon, Nicoladis, & Lambert, 1998; Collier & Thomas, 2004; Howard, Sugarman & Christian, 2003; Kirk-Senesac, 2002; Lindholm-Leary, 2001, 2005).
These studies showed that overall both English language learners and native English speakers made significant progress in both languages; both groups scored at or well above grade level in both languages by middle school; and both groups performed at comparable or superior levels compared to same-language peers in other educational settings.
On norm-referenced standardized tests of reading and math achievement in English, native English speakers outscored their English-only peers in English-only classrooms. English language learners who had learned English in a Dual Language program scored significantly higher than their English language learning peers who had studies in other kinds of programs in the state and also performed on a par with native English speaking students in English-only classrooms (Lindholm-Leary, 2005; Lindholm-Leary & Borsato, in press).
Why is it okay to immerse English speakers in a language, but not Spanish speakers?
The English speaker is not at risk of losing the English language. English is spoken at home, in the community, and in the media. Two-way bilingual immersion programs are not replacing English with another language, but provide the students the opportunity to acquire a second language. Two-way bilingual immersion programs are additive programs in that a second language is acquired while maintaining the first language of the students.
Do English learners get enough English instruction in an 80/20 model?
English time must be carefully defined and implemented. High quality curriculum and instruction are essential. Research shows that when programs are fully implemented according to the program design, English learners in 80/20 models score as well as or better than their peers in other programs in English tests. (Lindholm-Leary, 2001).
How can students who speak only English learn when they are instructed for up to 80 percent of the day in a language they don’t understand?
Understanding or reviewing the research on which these programs are based best answers this question. Two-way immersion programs are based on years of research from the foreign language immersion models in Canada designed for English speakers learning French. This model, in which English-speaking students have been instructed in French for up to 100 percent of their day, shows students perform as well as or better on tests of English than their English-speaking peers who have been instructed only in English. Fifteen years of results on two-way immersion programs show similar results.
For more information on immersion programs, visit the Center for Advanced Research on Language at http://carla.umn.edu.
Can you implement a two-way bilingual immersion program with a school population of 75% English speakers?
No, the ideal ratio of English learners to English speakers is 50:50, but to stay within the program design, the recommendation of many practitioners is that the ratio should never go below 33 percent for either language group. A school may however, under certain circumstances, choose to select a bilingual maintenance or heritage language model for developing bilingualism for this population.
Can you include English learners of a language other than Spanish in a Spanish/English two-way bilingual immersion program?
English learners in a Spanish/English two-way bilingual immersion program should be Spanish speakers. However, speakers of other languages who are proficient in either Spanish or English could be eligible for enrollment in the program.
Why are the two languages separated? Why don’t we translate so students hear a concept in their stronger language?
When students know that material is going to be presented in their stronger language after it is presented first in their weaker language, they learn to tune out and wait for the presentation in their stronger language, and, consequently, do not acquire the weaker language (Lessow-Hurley 2005; Freeman, Freeman and Mercuri 2005).
Are Dual Language programs appropriate for students with academic difficulties and/or special needs?
Enrollment in Dual Language can hold benefits for all students, regardless of academic difficulties or special needs. The appropriateness of enrollment in Dual Language is based on the specific needs of the student. No student will be disqualified from enrollment based on special needs. However, to determine if the program will be a good fit for a student’s particular needs, interested families should discuss the option with the program director prior to applying.
Research to date suggests that learning in two languages does not pose an extra cognitive load on the learner. In fact, research has shown that immersion programs are effective for students who often struggle in school because they come from low socioeconomic backgrounds or have low levels of academic achievement” (Cloud, Genesee & Hamayan 2000, 3).
How will interventions be handled? Will they be done in both languages? How will this fit into the school day?
Interventions for students are selected through the district’s RtI process. This process is used for all students. If students are experiencing difficulties, the grade level team works together to develop a plan for reteaching or enrichment in the classroom. This is monitored, and if not successful, the student is brought to a problem solving team. This team determines the needed intervention and the language in which it is needed. This is the process that has been in place for all students for many years and will continue to be used.
How will this be funded? Does this cost more money?
All students that register for school and indicate that another language is spoken at home are assessed for their language proficiency in English. Bilingual education is state-mandated for students who are assessed and qualify as limited English proficient.
Like many other state mandated programs, the district receives state and federal supplemental funding for students that qualify as limited English proficient to provide them bilingual education. Those funds are used to provide bilingual services to support those students. Dual language falls under the umbrella of bilingual education and therefore does not have any additional cost, nor does it receive additional funding above and beyond bilingual education.
Who can I contact for more information?
Johanna Poncio Jordan
Director of Curriculum,