Some people think a “language program” simply teaches children English as a second language, but a few schools have created dual-language programs that create a balance between both English and Spanish. Dual-language is also known as two-way immersion. The benefits of dual language in school are clear: the use of both languages throughout the week build up the lines of communication for students. They feel that they can speak and learn in either language without fear of ridicule or failure.
Are Students’ Brains Benefitting From Dual-Language Programs?
Many teachers in dual-language programs who have previously been teaching English language learners in schools that concentrated only on English see a difference in how students’ brains work in dual-language programs. The students regularly shift back and forth between the two languages, which makes their brains transfer information in new ways. Some schools have seen significant increases in testing scores regardless of the language of the test.
The Push for a Global Education
Dual-language in school programs are very contemporary strategies. Students learn that every language is important in global interconnectedness. They learn about different cultures and how languages have evolved based on culture. Teaching English language learners in a dual-language program helps them compare the languages linguistically, which can help with grammar, spelling and syntax.
Dual-Language Programs Are Similar to Gifted and Talented Programs
The engagement level of dual-language programs is quite high because students must multi-task in order to learn material in both languages. This is similar to the approach schools use to engage gifted and talented students. The more mental stimulation a lesson offers, the more engaged the students will be.
Parental Involvement Increases
Traditionally, the barrier for parent involvement in teaching English language learners has been that parents do not feel capable of interacting with teachers and other students in English, but dual-language programs change all that. In these programs, parents are not as nervous to ask questions and attend conferences. This bridges home and school lives for students, which is essential to academic success.
Teachers find that many of their students have academic knowledge of a language but lack an understanding of its social nuances. Dual-language programs offer a great opportunity to teach these critical aspects through games and wordplay. Children get a broader view of what real life is like in other cultures and learn to appreciate the differences in language and culture.
Learn about the LSUS online M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction: ESL program.
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