In the United States, more and more students are learning and achieving academic excellence in dual language programs. These two-way bilingual programs integrate students who were raised speaking different languages to promote and provide learning and language development in two languages (Christian). Even though Spanish is currently the most common language used in these programs, Cantonese, Korean, Japanese, Navajo, Russian, Portuguese, and French, are also used (Eric Digest. )
To be able to secure the full benefits of such a program,, students from two language backgrounds are in each class and they are integrated for most or most of the day, with the goals of promoting high academic achievement, first and second language development, and cross cultural understanding for all students (Tools for Schools). These programs provide an environment that promotes positive attitudes toward both languages and cultures and is supportive of full bilingual proficiency for both native and non native speakers of English (Christian).
Dual language programs appeal to a wide range of people. Parents of Spanish speaking children approve of dual language programs not only because their children will effectively learn English, but also because they will maintain and develop their Spanish. Many parents of English speaking children see dual language programs as beneficial enrichment programs which can make children bilingual which opens doors career wise (Alderson). It is also important for fluent speakers of English to have an opportunity to lean another language.
Research has demonstrated that these students who speak majority language of wider society, benefit from an immersion experience for language learning and do not suffer academically when instruction is provided via a second language. By uniting these two groups of students, two way bilingual programs help to expand our nation’s overall language competence by conversing and enhancing the language resources that minority students bring to school with them and promoting the language of other language by English speakers (Christian).
Many dual education programs have received Title VII funding, and have therefore been required to conduct annual evaluations of student progress. A review of these findings indicates there is a wide range of variation with regard to academic achievement and language proficiency outcomes of students enrolled in dual education programs (Tools for Schools). Even though this may be the case, it has become clear that students were achiving the desired levels of bilingual proficiency (Eric Digest).
Many programs have determined that their students perform as well or better than comparable students enrolled in alternative programs within the same district (Tools for Schools). Various reports and statistics reveal that the two way approach is effective not only in the teaching of two languages to both language groups, but also in the development of academic excellence (Eric Digest). Dual education programs address several serious issues facing education in the United States Today.
They provide an effective approach to educating the growing number of non native English speaking students in our schools in an environment that promotes native and English language development and academic progress, in addition to expanding our nation’s language barriers. They offer the hope of improving relationships between all groups enhancing cross cultural understanding and appreciation.