What is Dual Language? Dual language is a form of education in which students are taught literacy and content in two languages. Students in a Dual language class become bilingual, bi-literate, and bi-cultural. The make- up of the class is approximately 50% native English speakers (or dominant English speakers) and 50% native Spanish speakers. Students will receive literacy instruction in both Spanish and English.
What are the benefits of a Dual Language Program? Students in the Dual Language program have an opportunity to become highly proficient in the second language. They gain an appreciation of diversity and develop intercultural relationships. In addition, they acquire higher-order thinking skills and increased problem solving abilities. They will become bilingual, bi-literate and bi-cultural.
What language will my child be learning? Students in District 7’s Dual Language program will learn Spanish and English.
What is District 7’s Philosophy? The Philosophy of the Dual Language Program is to provide cross cultural experiences for students and to prepare them for a global society. By offering a dual language program to our students, we are giving them the gift of being biliteral, bicultural, and bilingual.
What are the goals for students in the Dual Language program? Our students will
Become bilingual, biliterate and bicultural
Perform academically at grade level in Spanish and English
Use two languages comfortably and effectively in social and academic settings appropriate for their age level
Demonstrate an appreciation of cultural diversity and cross-cultural competence across a variety of social situations
Engage in a rigorous curriculum that is aligned to state standards
Cultivate a lifelong love for language learning and an appreciation for cultural diversity
Why is the program beginning at kindergarten? Research shows that the younger years are the optimal years for children to learn a second language. Before the age of 10, a child can acquire native language proficiency for accent, grammar and comprehension. (Virginia Collier, 1992)
What curriculum will be utilized by the Dual Language program? Students in the Dual Language program will be receiving the same curriculum that all students receive in District 7. The only difference will be the language that they are learning the content in and the fact that Dual language students will receive literacy instruction in both Spanish and English.
Will my child progress at a slower rate than students that are not in the Dual Language program? No, the dual language program is taught using the same standards based curriculum that all students receive in the District. Through the use of research based strategies and interactive approaches students learn the academic content while developing the use of both languages. Their educational experience will be enhanced by the learning of two languages simultaneously.
Can I change my mind after my child has begun the program and have them removed from the Dual Language program? We do not recommend pulling your child out of the program once they have begun. Learning a language is a long-term commitment and space is very limited within the program. We ask that once your child is enrolled in the program that they remain in the program for the duration of their elementary years.
What can I do as a parent to get involved in the Dual Language program? There are many things that parents can do to be involved within the program. Parents can volunteer within the classrooms, attend parent events, and promote their child’s learning of a second language.
What can I do to support my child with homework? Teachers will do their very best to ensure that they only send homework home that children can do independently. However, it will be important to provide a quiet space and time for them to work. In addition, ask your child questions about his/her work. The questions can be asked in the native language of the home. Children answering questions in their native language about work they are doing in their second language will assist them in reinforcing and retaining the information they are learning. If your child is ever struggling with something that has been sent home, please contact the teacher.
Why should I consider enrolling my child in a Dual Language program? Brain research has shown that bilingual speakers have the opportunity to develop more cognitive flexibility through their bilingualism. Moreover, your child will be able to develop social skills that allow him/her to function in a multicultural world. In today's global economy, the ability to communicate in another language has become a significant advantage in the workforce. National studies have shown that children in dual language programs, as a group, perform as well or better than their respective peers on achievement tests in math, reading, and writing. Initially, while learning the second language, the dual language student might perform lower on these tests. By mid-elementary to middle school, when the student has obtained full academic language proficiency, the scores will increase.
Will my child become proficient in the second language? How long will that take? Generally, it takes students from 4-10 years to achieve cognitive academic language proficiency in the second language. Students at this stage will be near-native in their ability to perform in content area learning. Student success requires the active involvement of students, parents, and teachers. Achieving high levels of oral and written proficiency in a second language is a long-term process. A long-term commitment is essential, and parents need to understand that native-like proficiency in every skill area is unlikely. Still, dual language students will have a strong second language base upon which to continue moving toward full proficiency and to develop proficiency in different languages.
If I have additional questions, who can I contact? You can contact Dr. Merri Beth Kudrna, Curriculum Director, at 630-595-9510 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.