Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What does “two-way dual language” mean?
Dual language refers to learning simultaneously in two different languages. In our case, this will be English and Spanish. What makes the model “two-way” is the fact that native speakers of each language will be learning side-by-side so that both groups serve as language models at different times. The goal is to foster biliteracy in all students.
Q. What are the overall goals of the two-way dual language bilingual education program (DLBE)?
High academic achievement across all content areas for all students
Biliteracy and bilingualism for all students
Cultural proficiency for all students
Q. What are the advantages of learning content in two languages simultaneously?
Multilingualism has been shown to have many social, psychological and lifestyle advantages. Research in the last decade by neurologists, psychologists and linguists, using the latest brain-imaging tools, is revealing a swathe of cognitive benefits for bilinguals. It’s all to do with how our ever-flexible minds learn to multitask. (BBC, 2016)
Research consistently points to the following advantages for bilinguals:
enhanced cognitive skills;
superior developmental patterns;
ability to employ necessary cognitive and social strategies;
use of situational clues to understand what is happening;
enhanced capacity for divergent thinking (the understanding that there is more than one way to look at a problem and that more than one solution is possible)
ability to think flexibly and abstractly about language;
enjoyment of linguistic possibilities;
early emergence of the concept that there are multiple ways to express the same idea; transfer of skills and knowledge from one language to another.
In the last five years, the demand for employees in the United States who know more than one language has more than doubled, according to a report recently released by the New American Economy. In 2010, there were roughly 240,000 job postings aimed at bilingual workers. But by 2015, that figure swelled to about 630,000. Demand (is) for both low and high-skilled positions such as financial managers, editors, and industrial engineers (NBC News, 2017)
Q. What is the curriculum of DLBE?The curriculum is shared district-wide and aligned to the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS):
- a model of literacy instruction that integrates reading, writing, listening, speaking;
- the development of strong foundation skills in the home and new language through the study of literature and informational text;
- the integration of knowledge and ideas across disciplines;
- the discovery of order in our world through scientific investigation of living and non-living things;
- the exploration of families past and present;
- the examination of community, laws, and economics;
- mathematical knowledge, reasoning, and application.
In summary, the curriculum of DLBE @ MKES reflects the same curricular standards and frameworks currently used and shared by five elementary schools.
We presently assess students’ academic performance throughout the year. Formal assessments are scheduled and administered district-wide. We continue to use a range of tools to assess content knowledge and language proficiency in English and Spanish. For example, we administer universal screeners in English and Spanish and developmental reading assessments (e.g. BAS in English and Spanish; EDL in Spanish). We will also administer assessments of math computation skills that require no language and other common district assessments to monitor progress not only in content knowledge but also vocabulary development in that particular content area.
Instruction and assessment are integrated processes. It is critical that students are not subjected to an inordinate amount of formal assessments simply because they are receiving instruction in two languages. For this reason, the teacher’s on-going formative assessment processes will yield valuable information to monitor student progress in content and language.
Q. Is there evidence to demonstrate that DLBE increases achievement across all disciplines?
The advantages of bilingualism are widely recognized. Studies of two-way dual language bilingual education programs show that all students benefit from this model of instruction, leading to higher achievement in language arts and mathematics. Specifically, English-dominant students who participate in two-way dual language immersion programs consistently perform as well as or better than their monolingual peers in English-only programs. The same is true for students of the language minority (Collier and Thomas, 2003, 2009; Marian, Shook, and Schroeder, 2013).
Bilingual two-way immersion programs provide an effective instructional approach for both minority-language and majority-language elementary-school students. Students … show improved math and reading performance... (The) ability to communicate in two languages and interact with a larger proportion of the population is likely an asset for these students as they enter an increasingly globalized world. We conclude that two-way immersion models are beneficial in multiple ways ... (Biling, 2013, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health).
Q. Does this program cost the district more because you have to hire more bilingual teachers?
While our bilingual population continues to grow and bilingual instruction is mandated, we would need highly qualified teachers to teach students regardless of the implementation of a bilingual program. We will hire differently as we are now looking for outstanding dually certified teachers in elementary education with a bilingual extension. Hiring will change in the future and how we assign teachers to MKES will look different.
Q. What is the process for enrolling our child?
Families with children entering kindergarten will have the opportunity to enroll in DLBE @ MKES upon registration. Should interest exceed capacity, there will be a lottery, as outlined in board policy.
Families registering children in BCSD after kindergarten may indicate their interest in DLBE upon registration. Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Director and Principal.
Q. Once my child is enrolled in DLBE, will there be support for parents navigating a new language in our home?
Yes. There are grade-level parent engagement nights throughout the school year. MKES has a very active parent-teacher association that welcomes families and hosts many events. The DLBE Parent Advisory Team (PAT) provides feedback to DLBE leadership to inform ongoing program planning.