Dual Language Program Expansion

Dual Language Program Expansion

In the beginning of 2015, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced this new citywide initiative expanding Dual Language programs across the city.

The 40 dual language programs together will receive $1 million in federal funds from Title III Language Instruction for Limited Proficient and Immigrant Students (LEP). Each school will receive a $25,000 planning grant to implement its program. Among the schools participating in the Citywide Dual Language Initiative, 10 are in the Bronx, 11 in Brooklyn, nine in Manhattan, eight in Queens, and two in Staten Island. Of these, there are 23 elementary schools, three high schools, 13 middle schools, and one K-12 school. The Dual Language programs include Mandarin, French, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Japanese, and Spanish.

The Department of English Language Learners and Student Support (DELLSS) is spearheading the initiative and has developed an implementation plan to provide participating schools with quality professional development, parent workshops, and adequate resources to ensure the successful development and implementation of this initiative. Participating schools submitted a comprehensive application detailing the program design, instructional plans, professional development, and a family engagement component.

Here’s the official NYC DOE statement

Now, because of the popularity of the dual language programs, the school announced another expansion.

Chalkbeat’s Patrick Wall reports

Beginning this fall, 29 new or expanded dual-language programs will launch, with teachers delivering lessons in math, history, and other subjects in English and another language, including Chinese, French, Haitian-Creole, Arabic, Polish, and Spanish. Those programs are designed to serve a mix of students who are still learning English and ones who are proficient, with each group picking up a second language while also learning math, science, and other subject content.

Wall reports Fariña’s enthusiasm for the programs. He also notes pressure from the State to expand these programs: 

The city is under state pressure to sharply increase the number of bilingual programs. In 2013, after receiving state orders to create a “corrective action plan,” the city promised to open 125 new bilingual programs. And in 2014, the city reached an agreement with the state to make bilingual programs available to all English learners by 2018 — an ambitious goal, considering that about 116,000 English learners are currently enrolled in English-only programs.

What does this do to the demand for bilingual teachers? What about certification? Again, Wall:

The city faces several hurdles as it tries to ramp up its number of dual-language programs, including finding qualified bilingual teachers and ensuring that the programs are high quality.

Fariña acknowledged that recruiting bilingual teachers is a major challenge, but said she has several plans to address it. Those include partnering with local universities to train more teachers and asking the state to allow bilingual educators from other states to teach in New York without having to earn new licenses.

What exactly is a dual language program? This explanation from AM New York details it.

In dual language classes, 50% of students are English language learners and 50% are already English proficient and students receive instruction in both languages. In transitional programs, English language learners receive instruction in their first language, with intensive support in English, to achieve full proficiency in each. Both programs hope to help kids become bilingual, biliterate and bicultural.

The Wall Street Journal notes that an increasingly global economy has prompted parents to seek an “early leg up” for their kids. 

Many of these programs started as a way to ease students from immigrant households into U.S. classrooms. Instead, they are attracting droves of native English-speaking families who bet that top jobs will increasingly demand bilingual skills thanks to foreign trade and a growing Latino population in the U.S. Programs that immerse students in Spanish, Mandarin and Arabic are seeing heavy interest starting in preschool.

Parents are being attracted by research suggesting that students gain mental flexibility when they learn a language early in life instead of waiting until high school. In a multiyear study starting in 2007, George Mason University emeritus professors Wayne Thomas andVirginia Collier looked at native and nonnative English-speaking students mixed together in classrooms where teachers taught in both English and a second language. They found that all students scored higher in reading and math than students in non dual-language classrooms, regardless of their ethnicity or socioeconomic status.

More from the Wall Street Journal’s take here.

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