Dual Language Program
The diversity that Woodstock has acquired over the past several years provides a perfect platform for all students to have the opportunity to learn and develop a second language. A Spanish-English dual language program has been created to complement the changes of the Woodstock community. Through a dual language program (also known as two-way immersion) students will be exposed to the same curriculum as their peers while also having the opportunity to learn a second language. Cultures will be explored and students will work and learn together, preparing them for a successful future in the multicultural world in which we live.
What is a Dual Language Program?
Dual language education programs integrate native English speaking students with native Spanish speaking students for academic instruction, which is presented in both languages. Social and academic learning occurs in an environment that values the language and culture of all students and sets high standards to ultimately achieve academic success in Spanish and English.
Classrooms are composed of 50 percent native English speakers (language majority students) and 50 percent native Spanish speakers (language minority students). This ratio enables students to be language majority models and second language learners. The language used for instruction is also broken down by a 50/50 ratio. Fifty percent of classroom instruction is provided in English and fifty percent of classroom instruction is provided in Spanish. All students learn to read, write, listen, and speak two languages equally well.
The dual language model creates an additive bilingual environment, which allows students to acquire a second language while maintaining and developing their native language. The curriculum of the program is the same as in the general education program. All academic areas: reading, language arts, math, science, and social science, are taught in both Spanish and English.
What are the Goals of the Dual Language Program?
The mission of Woodstock Community Unit School District 200 is “To prepare all students to become productive, responsible and contributing members of our changing global society by providing a nurturing environment that rigorously promotes the realization of individual potential.” Students in dual language programs are presented with the social and cognitive benefits of bilingualism. They gain a second language, a broader vocabulary, and multiple views of the world, (Cazabon, Lambert, & Heise-Baigorria, 2002). In order to acquire these benefits, the program sets out to accomplish the following goals:
- Develop high levels of proficiency in Spanish and English
- Achieve grade level academic performance in Spanish and English
- Increase the use of foreign language among monolingual groups
- Develop children who will be more competitive in the global economy
- Take advantage of the optimal window of learning a second language during the primary years
- Nurture understanding of the different cultures living side by side in Woodstock
- Give students an upper edge in high school, college, and the workplace
- Develop bilingualism, biliteracy, and biculturalism
- Develop positive cross-cultural attitudes and behavior
What Does the Research Say About Dual Language?
Multiple benefits exist for acquiring a second language during the primary years. Some of the benefits of learning a second language during the elementary years include:
- Children have the ability to learn and excel in the pronunciation of a foreign language (Krashen, et al., 1982)
- Participation in early foreign language shows positive results in areas of standardized testing (Armstrong & Rogers, 1997) Children who had studied a foreign language show greater cognitive development (Hakuta, 1990)
- Foreign language study has shown to increase listening skills, memory, and a greater understanding of one’s own language (Lapkin, et al., 1990)
- Children studying foreign language have an improved self concept and sense of achievement in school (Caine & Caine, 1997)
- Children develop a sense of cultural pluralism, openness and appreciation of other cultures (Met, 1995)
History of Dual Language Programs
Dual language programs first appeared in the U.S. forty years ago. Dade County Public Schools in Miami, Florida was the first district to implement a Spanish-English dual language program in 1962. Then in the 1970’s programs spread into Washington D.C., Chicago, Illinois, and San Diego, California. Today, there are more than 300 dual language programs nation-wide. Spanish is the most popular target language with 94% of the programs using Spanish and English as the languages of instruction.
Programs are found in all different communities throughout the country. Large urban districts, middle class suburban districts as well as small rural districts have all found success and value in implementing dual language programs.
Curriculum and Teaching
A caring and dedicated staff trained in second language acquisition will deliver a curriculum that is aligned to state standards. Foreign language and English language learner standards will also be incorporated. Assessments will be given throughout the program to track academic and language achievement. Differentiated instruction will be incorporated into daily lesson plans to meet the needs of all students.