What Does the Research Say About Dual Language Immersion?

Dual language programs are the most impressive forms of education being offered in the United States, and there is a significant increase in demand for these programs throughout the country.  I thought I’d summarize the research about dual language programs in this blog post and include links to the longer research reports for parents who are interested in conducting their own analysis. We are excited about implementing a research-based dual language immersion program at Empower and will support parents and students every step of the way.

Summary of Research:

-Native English speakers often meet or exceed the performance of their peers participating in a monolingual program, with the added benefit of being bilingual.

-Students participating in dual language programs develop multicultural competencies along with social skills.

-Dual language programs are the most effective in closing the achievement gap.

-More English does not mean better results in English reading or writing, for both native English Speakers and native Spanish Speakers. Test results show that most dual language schools outperform their other demographically similar schools, the state, and local school district.

-There are additional cognitive benefits, including delayed onset of Alzheimer’s for bilingual children. Their brains are flexible and require increased levels of concentration not typical of a monolingual brain.


Excerpts from Research

Most Impressive Form of Education – Gets Results

Well-implemented two-way immersion programs are among the most impressive forms of education available in the United States. Students who participate in these programs gain grade level academic ability, well-developed language and literacy skills in two languages, and cross-cultural competence.” 1

 “ . . . high school students who participated in the two-way program achieved high levels of academic competence and motivation; developed ambitions to go to college and knowledge about how to pursue college; were proud to be bilingual and continued to use Spanish after they finished the program; and were very satisfied with the education they received in the two-way program.” 2

Strong Social Skills with Multicultural Values and Resiliency

“Second, the results point to the development of a sense of “resiliency” among the Hispanic, particularly ELL and low income, students. These students have developed or appear to possess many of the characteristics of “resilient” students, described

earlier in this report. These include certain internal traits, such as high self esteem, a motivation to study hard, and a belief in one’s academic competence; the perception of a positive school environment; a supportive family that places a high value on education and influences and monitors the education of their children; and a peer group that values education and does not use drugs.” 2

 “Bilingual kids are also better at “theory of mind” – the ability to imagine what others are thinking and feeling. Theory of mind is closely related to empathy – or “emotional intelligence,” as Howard Gardner put it – a trait that is essential in forming strong relationships and negotiating the social world. Because our personal and professional lives depend to such a great extent on interpersonal relationships, an advanced theory of mind is, to a great extent, a recipe for happiness and success.” 6

Highly Effective for ALL students of ALL backgrounds

“Despite receiving instruction in English for no more than 50% of class time, Inter-American students consistently attain high levels of achievement in English reading and writing, math, science, and social studies. Especially compelling is the continued high achievement of low-income LEP students in English reading and writing as they progress through the grade levels. In addition, all students develop proficiency in Spanish .  . .both English-dominant and Spanish-dominant students learn another language with no negative consequences for their academic, linguistic, or intellectual development.”  3

“ . . .native English speakers, including African American students, not only scored higher than their monolingually educated peers, but they also acquired a second language for their lifelong use.” 5

The ONLY program for English learners that CLOSES THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP

“Enrichment dual language schooling closes the academic achievement gap in L2 and in

first language (L1) students initially below grade level, and for all categories of students participating in this program. This is the only program for English learners that fully closes the gap; in contrast, remedial models only partially close the gap.” 4


References for Further Reading:

1. Two-Way Immersion Education: The Basics



2.  Effects of an Elementary Dual Language Immersion School Program on Junior High School Achievement



3. Senesac, B. V. K. (2002). Two-way bilingual immersion: A portrait of

quality schooling. Bilingual Research Journal, 26(1), 1-26.


4.  The Astounding Effectiveness of Dual Language Education for All



5.  The Multiple Benefits of Dual Language



6.  Bilingualism Will Supercharge Your Baby’s Brain







Enrollment Process

Welcome to the Empower Charter School Family! Enrolling is easy, just fill out the enrollment form  here. 

Step 1- Complete enrollment form between Jan 1, 2014 and April 30, 2014. (Located here.)

Step 2- If any grade level receives more applications than we have space for, Empower will hold a public random drawing to determine admission for the impacted grade level.  More information is below relating to the details of the public random drawing.

Step 3- In May, we will contact you to let you know your child’s admission status. All children are admitted as space allows.

Step 4- We will contact you with dates and times of the annual orientation session, which every parent/guardian is required to attend. We will have a variety of dates/times available to accommodate a wide variety of schedules. The purpose of this session is to provide opportunities for families to ask questions and become familiar with the school facility and community.

Step 5-  After admission, a parent or guardian must complete and/or provide all documents required for enrollment in a public school including but not limited to immunization records, proof of residency, birth certificate, release of records, emergency medical information form, and a home language survey.

Step 6- After admission, for parents enrolling their child in the dual-language immersion program, the school will conduct an interview with student and parent. For students enrolling as Spanish speakers, a simple assessment may be given to determine their language proficiency. This meeting will explain what to expect from a child learning in two languages and will provide strategies to support the child. Many different appointment times will be offered to accommodate a wide range of schedules.

Step 7- After admission, the student and the parents must sign statements indicating that they are familiar with and agree to abide by all policies and procedures set forth in the Parent and Student Handbooks.

Details Regarding the Public Random Drawing


Admission preferences in the case of a public random drawing shall be given to the following students in the following order:

1. Residents within the boundaries of San Diego Unified School District

  • Siblings of current students
  • Children of founding members or founding trustees of the Charter School (not to exceed 10% of total enrollment)
  • Children of current full-time staff members
  • To maintain and strengthen the dual immersion model, Spanish-speaking students will be recruited and will be given preferential admission up to 50% of the positions available in each grade.
  • All other in-district students

2. Residents outside the boundaries of San Diego Unified School District

  • Siblings of current students
  • Children of founding members or founding trustees of the Charter School (not to exceed 10% of total enrollment)
  • Children of current full-time staff members
  • To maintain and strengthen the dual immersion model, Spanish-speaking students will be recruited and will be given preferential admission up to 50% of the positions available in each grade.
  • All other out-of-district students

3. All other students as permitted by law

Rules and Procedures for Public Random Lottery

• All interested parties will know, prior to the holding of the lottery, how many openings are available in the school for each Spanish pathway and in the different grades served by the school.

• The lottery will take place on the school’s campus in a facility large enough to allow all interested parties to observe the drawing, or at another public venue near the school large enough to accommodate all interested parties.

• Interested parties will complete an enrollment form during the Open Enrollment Period from Jan 1st-April 30th in order to participate in the lottery, if one is needed.

• The lottery will take place on a weekday evening or other time when most interested parties are available, within 30 days of closing the open enrollment period.

• The lottery shall draw names from pools of ballots differentiated by grade level and Spanish pathway desired.

• Applicants will be admitted in the order their names are drawn at random.

• Grade level vacancies are filled in priority order.

• Once capacity has been reach for a grade, the names are placed on a waiting list in the order in which they were drawn.

• An adult citizen of good standing, not otherwise employed by the School, will testify in writing, under penalty of perjury, that he or she personally witnessed the lottery pursuant to the above, and that it was random, public and fairly executed as described above. This documentation will be on file in the ECS main office and available upon request.

• All applicants who are admitted to the school will receive notification in writing by U.S. mail and will receive five business days to respond to the Office Manager either in writing, in person or by phone, fax or e-mail of their intention to accept or decline the offer for enrollment. If there is no response after five business days, a phone call will be made to the prospective applicant on two separate occasions and then the vacancies will be considered declined and the application will be withdrawn and will be offered to the next student on the waiting list.

• Vacancies that become available during the school year will be filled in order from the numbered applicants on the waiting list. In the event there are no applicants on the waiting list, new students may apply to enter the school. The parent/guardian of a new student after the school year has started will be required to attend one orientation/informational meeting with the Executive Director or another designated staff member to ensure communication of the school’s mission, educational program, and requirements.

• All waiting lists extinguish annually at the end of the School’s formal academic year, or as otherwise determined by the ECS Board of Trustees.

Empower Team!

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