Kindergartner Ava Josephine Mikel and teacher Priscilla Joseph dance to Haitian music during a game of “freeze dance” at Toussaint L’Ouverture Academy, a Haitian Creole dual-language program at Mattahunt Elementary School in Boston. More dual-language programs are cropping up in districts around the country.
For decades, two factors drove the demand for dual-language education: a desire to preserve native languages and recognition that dual-language learning can boost overall achievement for English-language learners. Now, a growing number of states also see bilingualism as key to accessing the global economy, as evidenced by the surging popularity of the “seal of biliteracy”—a special recognition for graduates who demonstrate fluency in two or more languages. The popularity of the seal is spurring even more demand for dual-language-education programs.
There is no definitive count of the number of schools that provide dual-language instruction, but new programs are cropping up each year in districts of all sizes. The New York City schools alone have more than 100 dual-language programs, but schools in at least 40 states and the District of Columbia also operate programs. With more new programs undoubtedly in the works, Education Week talked with several regional and national dual-language education experts, who offered insights into what it takes to launch dual-language programs and strengthen existing ones. Here are some excerpts from those conversations, edited for clarity and length…
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