MMSD Dual Language Immersion: The What, Why, and How
Program Description: What is Dual Language Immersion?
In dual language immersion (DLI), native Spanish speakers and native English speakers maintain and develop their first language while acquiring native-like communication and literacy skills in a second language. Academic content is taught and assessed in two languages over an extended period of time. MMSD has used a 90/10 Spanish/English model for its dual language programs in prior years. In this model, beginning in kindergarten, 90% of classroom time is conducted in Spanish and 10% is taught in English. With each grade, English instructional time increases by 10% until fourth grade when an equal amount of time is spent learning in both languages. DLI teachers practice language separation to support language development goals. Both languages serve as a vehicle of instruction, a learning resource and a learning target within DLI programs. DLI programs enhance academic and linguistic abilities in two languages. Teachers in DLI programs integrate multicultural content to promote the development of cross-cultural competence.
Program Objectives: Why choose Dual Langauge Immersion for your child?
Effective DLI programs result in improved academic achievement and graduation rates of English language learners (ELLs), or students who speak a language other than English in the home. The DLI program supports district efforts to close the academic achievement gap between ELLs and their peers. In addition to enhanced academic achievement, DLI students develop the ability to read, write, and communicate in their first and second languages, which prepares them for full participation in today’s interconnected and increasingly competitive global context DLI programs reflect and honor the linguistic and cultural diversity of our community and prepare students for academic and personal success. DLI programs also report decreases in student mobility and positive outcomes for African American students as compared with non-DLI students of similar background. “Students who started out as English language learners and studied through bilingual immersion not only scored significantly higher than ELLs educated in English-only classrooms but also performed on par with native English speakers educated in English-only classrooms.” (Lindhom-Leary, 2004, Lindhom-Leary & Borsato. 2004, in press)
Program Model: How does it work?
DLI teachers help their students learn language and subject matter by centering the day on a common theme. DLI teachers also include language goals along with content learning goals and frequently check for understanding along the way. Having speakers of both English and Spanish, as well as students from different cultural backgrounds, provides authentic opportunities for students to learn from each other. To maximize learning, DLI classrooms are composed of 50% to 60% students who speak all or mostly Spanish and 40% to 50% English speakers. Students are assessed in the language of instruction, except in cases of assessments mandated by the state such as the WKCE. Research has shown that students perform at or above grade level on standardized tests within five to seven years of experience in DLI programs.
To learn more about Dual Language Immersion, click here to watch a video made by The Center for Advanced Research on Language Aquisition (CARLA) at the University of Minnesota. All Madison Metropolitan School District DLI teachers are trained in immersion through CARLA professional development offereings. Please note that there are some differences in programming from what is described in this video in St. Paul, Minnesota's school district and our own.