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.
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.
When do students perform at grade level on standardized achievement tests in their first and second languages?
Native English speakers tend to perform at grade level in their first language once they have received formal reading instruction through that language, and their achievement is at grade level in the second language typically by third grade, if not sooner. For English language learners, scores are usually in the average range in their first language by second grade, but as a group they do not achieve at grade level in English until middle school.
What can I do as a parent to get involved in my child’s dual language classroom?
As in other education programs, strong home-school connections are essential to the success of dual language programs. There are many things that programs and parents can do to help foster these connections.
- Volunteer in the classroom.
- Share with students aspects of the home language and culture such as music, dance, literature, and foods.
- Attend parent education workshops on dual language programs.
- Participate in dual language family social gatherings (Saturday Picnic TBA)
- Serve as chaperons for program class trips.
- Keep in touch with other dual language parents about program developments. For example, two volunteer parents (one representing each language background) can help get the word out to other parents about important upcoming events. In some programs, parents have formed an electronic email list along with staff, and they use that forum to discuss all sorts of issues.
- Parents help each other with translations.
- Support their children’s language and literacy development in two languages, as well as their emerging cross-cultural appreciation. They can do this by exposing their children to books and movies in both languages; attending cultural festivals; and providing opportunities for authentic language exchanges.
How can I help support my child in doing homework in the second language, particularly if I don’t know that language?
Parents can support students at home by making sure that they have the right environment and tools to get homework done (e.g., a quiet space and enough time, paper, dictionaries in both languages, writing utensils, and art supplies such as construction paper, paste, tape, and colored makers). Parents can also ask questions about the homework in the language spoken at home, thus giving the students opportunities to explain the assignment in their first language.
What resources exist for parents of DUAL LANGUAGE students?
There are many resources for parents on two-way immersion education.
1. Books and videos from organizations. Dual language videos are available through the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL).
2. Online directories of dual language programs. CAL has an online directory of DUAL LANGUAGE programs in the United States.
3. Following is a partial list of organizations with a special interest in dual language education:
· The Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL)
· National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE)
· 2-Way CABE (California Association for Bilingual Education)
· Dual Language Education of New Mexico
· Illinois Resource Center
Some of these organizations host conferences that look at dual language programs, and this information is provided on their websites. The OELA Newsline of the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisitionalso has a section for parents of bilingual children (to subscribe, go to http://www.ncela.gwu.edu/enews/subscribe.htm.
Will learning a second language interfere with my child’s ability to learn basic reading, writing and math skills?
No. National studies have shown that children in Dual Language programs, as a group, perform the same or better than their monolingual, English-speaking peers on achievement tests in math, reading and writing (Thomas & Collier, 2001). Research also shows that students who acquire advanced levels of proficiency in two languages often experience cognitive and linguistic advantages and perform better on tasks that require divergent thinking, pattern recognition, and problem solving (Cummins, 1998).
Does it matter if no one at home speaks the second language?
No. Continuous exposure to English at home is also important. Read to your child daily and continue the literacy experiences you would naturally encourage. One of the advantages of this program is that students with strong English abilities succeed well. You may even notice your child beginning to read in English by using the literacy skills learned in Spanish before formal English reading instruction is presented
How can I help my child with homework if I can’t understand the language?
Homework instructions are provided in English and in Spanish. Teachers will communicate with you in the language you are comfortable with. Teachers also welcome communication through email.
How are dual language kids tested on state required tests as they move on in school?
Students in a dual language program take the same state assessments as all Texas students. For students will take the test in the language of instruction. For example, if the student is receiving math instruction in Spanish, he/she will take the STAAR test is Spanish.
How are the test results for students that have been in dual language?
By 5th grade, students in dual language programs out-perform their peers in regular academic programs.
How will you differentiate for different academic needs of students?
The learning needs of each student will be met, whether in his/her own classroom with his/her own teachers (GT certified and certified in ESL), or by another teacher of a higher or lower grade level, or by a specially trained teacher for specific needs. Accommodations will be made to differentiate for students showing mastery in either language.
How long will it take my child to acquire enough Spanish to speak to me?
Research states that it takes 5-7 years to acquire a language. That being said, students develop certain skills quickly, others come with more time. They will be able to follow instructions and perform tasks that require listening before they are able to confidently speak in the second language