Dual Language Immersion Programs

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Dual Language Immersion Programs

Dual Language Immersion Programs


While in Los Angeles on one occasion, Ron Unz, Palo Alto businessman, saw Hispanic parents picketing a school because the school would NOT permit their students to be placed in an English-speaking classroom. The parents wanted their children to learn English and believed that the bilingual class experience was inhibiting that desire. This experience profoundly affected Mr. Unz and he decided to do something about it.

The Unz Initiative, Prop. 227, mandates school districts to comply with four main actions:

All children, including LEP (Limited English Proficient Students, virtually all of whom come from homes where a non-english language is spoken), must be taught English "by being taught in English;"

to do so, all children must be placed in English-language classrooms(where the language of instruction is "overwhelmingly in English");

LEP students must be placed in sheltered or structured English-Immersion classrooms where "nearly all" instruction is in English for aproximately one year, an

once LEP students acquire a "good working knowledge" of English, they must be transferred into a regular mainstream English classroom (i.e., a classroom of students who are native or reasonably fluent English speakers.)

At first glace, some educators thought Prop 227 would be the death nell of bilingual education, the main curricular program utilized for the past 20 years to instruct LEP students in English. The reverse is true for two reasons: First, the Unz Initiative DOES permit native, primary, or home language instruction for core curricular subjects upon the following conditions: (1) the parents comes in person to the school, (2) receives an explanation in understandable language of a bilingual class option availble at the school, and (3) signs an informed consent waiver to permit their child to be placed in a basic bilingual transitional classroom after 30 days assessment in a "Sheltered English Immersion" classroom. This will be permitted based on the informed belief of the parent and the school personnel that this alternative approach to learning English is better suited to the child's overall educational development.

Pros and cons of Dual Language Immersion programs

 Many people believe the best way for a student to excel in a foreign language is an immersion program. Advocates also suggest the younger the child, the better it is to send them to an immersion program, and that's why full-immersion daycare or preschool are so popular. These can be especially useful if neither parent speaks the foreign language. Why? For better or worse, children learn far more from other kids than from any adult. Thus, if you are contemplating sending your child to an immersion school, it may be a huge advantage for fluency in a foreign language. 

In fact, research indicates that in full immersion programs, children develop initial literacy in the immersion language, and then develop a complete understanding of the foreign language. However, the benefits do not stop there. In fact, the many cognitive processes that underlie the ability to read a foreign language, such as understanding the relationship between the spoken language and the written word, transfer from ...
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