A: Dual language programs are the most effective type of foreign language program currently available in the United States schools. Most students participating in a dual language program will reach higher levels of second language proficiency than students in other school-based language programs (Met, 1998). Becoming bilingual provides cognitive benefits as well as the opportunity to compete for jobs that require a second language. Numerous studies consistently show that immersion students achieve as well as or better than non-immersion peers on standardized measures of verbal and mathematics skills administered in English (Cloud, Genesee & Hamayan, 2000; Genesee, 1987). In addition, students have the opportunity develop positive cross-cultural attitudes and behaviors.
A: Generally, it takes students from 4-10 years to achieve cognitive academic language proficiency in a second language. Students at this stage will be near-native in their ability to perform in content area learning. The time it takes to learn a language is influenced by many factors, including students' personality and motivation, teacher expectations, parent support, program leadership, and support at both the school and district level. Students success requires the active involvement of all of these stakeholders. Achieving high levels of oral and written proficiency in a second language is a long-term process. A long-term commitment is essential, and parents need to understand that native-like proficiency in every skill area is unlikely. Still, dual language students will have a strong second language base upon which to continue moving toward full proficiency and dto devleop proficiency in additional languages.
Blanca Harvey Dual Language Facilitator/Bilingual Literacy Coach
(509) 222-6899 Email