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

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