U-46 Board to Hear about Dual Language Program Expansion Tonight -BYLN- Elgin Area School District U-46

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 2, 2016 | Go to article overview

U-46 Board to Hear about Dual Language Program Expansion Tonight -BYLN- Elgin Area School District U-46


Saul Diaz, a fifth-grader in the Dual Language Ignite program at Ronald D. O'Neal Elementary School, started his education as an English Language Learner in Elgin Area School District U-46's renowned 80:20 Dual Language Program and is well on his way to becoming fully biliterate and bilingual, which his father, also named Saul Diaz, hopes will help him find a good job and career success.

"The more languages that you know," Mr. Diaz said. "The better off you are and the more options you have."

U-46 administrators Monday night will present their plan to expand the district's dual language programming to the middle school level in 2016-17, continuing a virtually unmatched rollout of Spanish/English instruction that has earned the district attention from dual language experts and districts across the country.

The presentation will take place after 7 p.m. during the board meeting Monday, Feb. 1 at the Educational Services Center, 355 E. Chicago St. in Elgin.

Abbott, Ellis, Kimball, Larsen, and Tefft middle schools are slated to implement an extension of the 80:20 Dual Language Program during the 2016-17 school year.

The numbers -- "80:20" -- refer to the fact that in U-46, the youngest students start out with 80 percent of their instruction in Spanish and 20 percent in English, reducing the Spanish-language portion by 10 percent per year from kindergarten through third grade, until the split is 50-50, where it remains through sixth grade.

Already the dual language program has given hundreds of students the opportunity to learn a second language without losing their first. These students are expected to perform in both languages in the long-term as well or better than their peers on a range of metrics, including overall academic achievement, problem-solving ability, self-esteem, cross-cultural understanding and standardized testing.

Research over the last 15 years has convinced educators and parents of the value of dual language education, prompting an increasing number of schools to embrace the model, where English Language Learners continue learning their first language as they acquire their second.

More parents see the value in raising their children bilingually, even if they speak only one language at home. Interest in the two-way dual language program at U-46 has continued to grow, and across both program types, 8,382 students in 33 schools are getting their instruction in both English and Spanish.

The district implemented dual language programs in pre-K through second grade at 29 elementary schools during the 2011-12 school year. Since then, the program has expanded, grade by grade, along with students.

In 2015-16, students whose home language is Spanish and qualify for ELL services accessed dual language instruction in pre-K through sixth grade. Native English speakers and English-dominant students also participated in the dual language program as an enrichment opportunity in kindergarten through fifth grade in what is known as "two-way" dual language. …

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