California Educator

May / June 2016

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Page 26 of 59

e increasing popularity of DI programs throughout the state ref lects an understanding that multilingual skills are an asset that can give students a competitive edge in today's global marketplace. In fact, the California Education for a Global Economy (Ed.G.E.) Initiative, sup- ported by CTA on the November ballot, seeks to solidify this edge by expanding students' access to multilingual education, and allowing teachers, parents and schools more control over the curriculum. (See sidebar, page 28.) A G R OW I N G T R E N D DI begins in kindergarten, with 90 percent of instruction in a second language and 10 percent in English. English instruction increases gradually; by fourth grade the ratio is 50:50. Schools may vary this formula with a higher per- centage of English in the beginning. e goal is to foster biliteracy, so students can speak, read and write fluently in two languages. Schools throughout California have expanded DI programs to meet the demands of parents, who believe a second language benefits children in a diverse state and a global economy. Over the past decade, the num- ber of DI programs in the U.S. has increased tenfold, notes the U.S. Department of Education. California has 369 dual-language schools, m o s t o f t h e m S p a n i s h , according to the California Department of Education (CDE). " It 's d ef init ely b e c om- ing a trend in our diverse state of California ," com- m e n t s E l e n a F a j a r d o , a d m i n i s t r a t o r o f t h e C D E 's L a n g u a g e P o l i c y and Leadership Of fice. Most of the districts that implemented DI did so fairly recently, and the majority of their programs are in elementary schools. Districts with older DI programs, such as San Francisco and Chico, have created programs at the secondary level, while others are scrambling to create them so students can continue what they've started. Fremont, for exam- ple, has a Mandarin DI program in the works for children about to enter middle school. e programs are also popular with immigrant fam- ilies who want their children to read and write in their native language — and ethnic families who want their children to maintain their heritage. After Proposition 227 of 1998 mandated that English learners be taught in English, Latino par- ents turned to DI programs to replace bilingual education programs that were dismantled. Because they are open to all students and not specifically Don Kinslow, fifth-grade teacher at Rosedale Elementary, says dual immersion has helped create a more inclusive environment at the school. Educator Lourdes Cassetta, center, at Rosedale Elementary, a two-way immersion school that groups native Spanish speakers with native English speakers. "Dual immersion expands children's understanding and acceptance of others. It gives them a perspective of what it's like to be in a different culture without having to leave the country." — Lourdes Cassetta, Chico Unified Teachers Association 25 May / June 2016

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