by Lilly Sun, dual immersion teacher, Cache County School District
“It’s fun. I understand everything!”
The excitement and confidence expressed by the second-grader who made the statement above is common among students participating in the dual language immersion (DLI) program in the Cache County School District. Approximately 500 students are now learning Chinese, French, Portuguese or Spanish in four of our local schools. By the time these students graduate from high school, they will have acquired a skill that very few Americans have: the ability to communicate in a language other than their first language.
The 50/50 Dual Immersion Model
Beginning in first grade, for half of each school day, the teacher instructs the regular curriculum and never speaks a word of English. The second half of each day is spent with an English-speaking teacher who provides core instruction in the native language. When students start middle school they will leave the 50/50 model and will take an honors DLI language course each year. The middle school courses will prepare them for the college AP language exam in the ninth grade. The classes in the 10th through 12th grades will be university courses, co-taught by university professors and high school partner teachers. High school graduates will have acquired enough credits for a college minor before leaving high school.
The Brain on DLI
It is important to start early. Research shows that the younger a student starts, the easier it is to acquire a second language. Kathy Toolson, principal at Sunrise Elementary School, a Portuguese-speaking school, said, “We looked at the math scores, the DLI students had performed equally as well, or better, than our English-only students.” National and state studies confirm that bilingualism does indeed, provide tremendous cognitive benefits, and that learning a second language through immersion does not impede overall academic progress.
Enrolling Your Child
An information meeting will be held for parents interested in enrolling first graders for the 2016-17 school year on Wednesday, Dec. 2, at North Park Elementary at 7 p.m. The application will be available on the district’s website, ccsdut.org, beginning Dec. 1.
Parents should contact Shauna Winegar, the district DLI coordinator, with any questions or for help in applying. Email her at email@example.com or call (435) 245-6093, ext. 5367. You can also find more information at www.ccsdutcurriculum.org/dual-launguage-immersion.html.