Dissecting The Educational Value of Dual Language Immersion ProgramsBrooks
Spanish is the second most spoken language on earth. With approximately 387 million native speakers across the world, more people speak Spanish than English. In the United States, Spanish is the second most spoken language next to English. In American schools, English language learners have historically fallen behind in primary and secondary school. Bridging the language gap in the American education system hasn’t been incredibly effective historically.
Of course, when something doesn’t work, we must innovate. As bureaucratically sluggish as the education system can be, there are many minds hard at work addressing the vast and changing nature of educational issues. One of these methods are dual language immersion programs. We’re going to look at what those constitute.
What are dual language immersion programs?
Simply put, dual language immersion programs teach a bilingual curriculum which immerses students in literacy and content in two different languages. Because of the prevalence of Spanish speakers in the United States, Spanish language immersion programs paired with English are far and away the most widely implemented. Programs generally spend half the school day in one language and half in the other. These programs, when most successful, start with very young students as Spanish curriculum for elementary school (and sometimes younger). The dual immersion continues each school year, ideally until graduation, having fully immersed the students in two languages for the entirety of their pre-collegiate education.
Why are dual language immersion programs effective?
Initially, if you put a native Spanish speaker and a native English speaker in the same class, statistically the English speaker grasps academic concepts quicker because they already grasp the language content is being taught in. In dual language immersion, having a day split between two languages, you effectively level the academic playing field. There’s no linguistic advantage because both sides are learning the other language, plus content. The goal is a higher collective academic achievement for all students, with the additional perk of shared fluency in both languages being instructed in.
There’s a lot to look into as dual language immersion programs continue to permeate American education. As it stands now, these programs are poised to change education and address a serious academic gap that has perpetually existed between English speaking students and student who are English language learners.