Skip to comments.Dual language program
Posted on 01/28/2008 6:05:45 PM PST by spintreebob
After years of pleading with the Elgin Area U-46 school board for middle school dual-language opportunities, a group of Channing Elementary parents are in panic mode.
Were nervous for our sixth-graders, said Kristen Webb. After seven years of dual language study, there are no programs in place for them when they head to middle school.
Channings dual language program, unique among U-46 schools, was established seven years ago, splitting a select group of students school days and subjects, between Spanish and English. Currently, officials said, there are two dual language kindergarten classes, two each in first and second grades, one thirdgrade class. In fourth, fifth and sixth grades, dual language classes are grouped by subject.
Classes, capped at 25 students, often have waiting lists. This years kindergarten class tested 110 students for the program, taking only 50, said Judy Rivera, who runs Channings program.
At the time, we established it as a one-site program for the district, U-46 spokesman Tony Sanders said. Were still in the process of figuring out if it should be expanded.
Five parents at last weeks school board meeting urged the district to speed up the process citing test score improvements, confident kids and a multicultural atmosphere as reasons for expanding the program into Ellis Middle School, which most Channing students feed into.
Weve been going to the district for the past three years about this, said Caty Hernandez, whose daughter Natalye is a Channing third-grader. And weve gotten no response.
With 72 percent of Channings students coming from low-income homes, and nearly 85 percent of students identified as minorities, the majority of Channings students have been labeled at risk of educational failure. High test scores from dual language students helped bump Channing off the states academic warning list in 2005, Rivera said. The percentage of students, according to 2007 state report cards, making Adequate Yearly Progress at Channing in reading is 66.3 percent; in math, 76.6 percent; both well above the No Child Left Behind benchmark of 55 percent.
We have statistics here at Channing that the dual language students are consistently scoring above their peers, Rivera said. I think the parents think our students going on to middle school are going to miss out on their Spanish, lose much of what theyve gained. This program needs to keep expanding.
Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54, which launched a dual language program in 2005, has grown to include three elementary schools and a middle school with Spanish-English dual language programs. Its been done elsewhere, Hernandez said. Why not here?
Hernandez and other parents insist theyre not asking for something unreasonable. We dont expect them to implement the whole program at Ellis, she said. But something, a literature course or something
. Time is running out. The kids have worked so hard and now what?
On the one hand, they're only allowing the brighter students into the program in the first place:
Classes, capped at 25 students, often have waiting lists. This year’s kindergarten class tested 110 students for the program, taking only 50, said Judy Rivera, who runs Channing’s program.
Then they try to state that the students are bright because of the dual-language:
“We have statistics here at Channing that the dual language students are consistently scoring above their peers...”
Now I may not be the brightest bulb, but doesn't it stand to reason that if the best and the brightest are being admitted to the program in the first place that, regardless of the additional language, they'd still be out-scoring their peers afterward?
In other words, one has nothing to do with the other.
I think a second language is a definite asset (3 is even better!). Two of my cousins attended French-immersion to the end of high school. Now, the illegal issue is totally separate. If there is demand for dual language schools and language education then I see no reason it shouldn’t be provided.
Don’t get me wrong: whether or not the government should be providing it is a completely different issue.
“however, the ability the think in multiple languages does give a person a cognitive advantage”
How does this work? Does it increase as more languages are added, and (as I would guess) does the divergence in the structure (say, english and mandarin together compared with spanish and portgues) of the 2 languages impact the cognitive skills?
Dual language program is not a codeword for instruction in Spanish for Spanish speakers and English for English speakers. These programs teach some subjects in Spanish and some in English for the students in their classes. Spanish speakers receive half of their classes in English and English speakers receive half of their classes in Spanish. The goal is to graduate students that are fluent in two languages instead of just one.
Two of my kids went through a dual language program, and they were great. The program was modeled by the European schools that teach their students their local language and English as well. You might want to do some research before you make assumptions.
They’re just gonna have to finally learn English.
Agreed. The manner in which an individual conceives an idea and perceives the environment is definitely colored by linguistic experience. Cultural idioms tied to a language also have an influence.
The goal is to graduate students that are fluent in two languages instead of just one.
The panic among the Hispanic parents indicates that the goal wasn't achieved. Their children are being advanced to a school system where they are expected to have achieved fluency in English. Your native English speaking children won't have a problem.
You are right on target but I imagine that many here will not agree with you.
I suspect the reason for the waiting list is not quite what you think.
Dual-language programs work best when there is about a 50-50 balance between native speakers of each language. If the school is heavily minority, almost all english speakers who apply will be admitted into the program, but there will be more selection among the spanish speakers.
Based on actual results, both groups do better than their academic peers in other types of programs. Even in seemingly unrelated subjects such as math.
Your line of reasoning may be valid for the spanish-speakers, but it does not explain the performance of the english-speakers.
Just because someone named Rivera says it, it does not mean there is panic among the hispanic parents.
Think this one through with me. Why would hispanic parents fear that their children would be losing their spanish if that is their first language? The only students at risk for losing the spanish they have learned are the english-speakers.
Their children are being advanced to a school system where they are expected to have achieved fluency in English.
The parent complaining is worried that his obviously English speaking children, will lose the Spanish they have learned over their elementary school years. I doubt the Spanish speaking students are going to worry about losing their Spanish. Is it possible that you are confusing dual language with an ESL program?
I have encountered many here that disagree with Spanish being taught at all. Their logic seems to be that if the language is spoken by illegals, then it must be bad, and therefore it must be prohibited in our schools.
I didn’t speak English until entering public school when I was 7. I speak Spanish, English and Portuguese. All of my children are also fluent in all three, although they refuse to speak anything but English most of the time. It is a valuable asset to speak more than one language, but you are right about the cognitive benefits. Most colleges are now requiring 3-4 years of another foreign language, and many degree programs are also requiring a second language.
There was no evidence offered about the first language of the hispanic students. It wouldn't be a matter of "losing their Spanish". It would be a matter of not getting any further instruction in a language they understand. The article only cites improvements in scores relatives to their peers. How do they perform compared to students at that grade level across the country based on standardized exams?
My #2 son speaks English and Spanish. As a real estate broker, he conducts almost 90% of his business with Spanish speakers. He represents them in court. His employees speak English, Spanish, Tagalog, Mandarin, Thai and Laotion. He views that as a competitive advantage. In exchange for that linguistic access, he mentors those employees to become more competent and productive in the real estate business.
I always try to read the black words on the white page:
I think the parents think our students going on to middle school are going to miss out on their Spanish, lose much of what theyve gained. This program needs to keep expanding.
Now, exactly what part of that quote is hard to understand?
The parents are not afraid that the students will not understand math, they are afraid they will lose the mastery of spanish they have gained.
Whether you choose to believe it or not, mastery of spanish is a valuable skill. There is significant trade between english-speaking nations and spanish-speaking ones. A mastery of both languages is of great practical significance for anyone involved in any aspect of this trade, and it becomes even more valuable as one ascends to higher levels of the organizations carrying out that trade.
Do you really want to cede all of the high positions in a number of businesses to people born speaking spanish and schooled speaking english only, or would you like to have some native english-speakers schooled in dual-language programs in contention?
My #2 son learned Spanish from his friends across the street and others at school. He pursued it by dating Spanish speaking girls who were trying to learn English. Quid pro quo. His ability to speak Spanish was critical to being hired at Rubio's (his 2nd job in high school). Half the staff didn't speak any English.
Frankly, I think we need to have more language programs in the elementary schools. The universe of choices should go beyond Spanish. Mandarin and Arabic are in demand, yet positions remain perpetually vacant. The problem with learning any language in school is maintaining proficiency. It is a perishable skill. My wife is weighing whether to take a couple semesters of Spanish or Shoshone. The latter would be valuable for her minor and there's plenty of people around here that speak Shoshone. There are far fewer that speak Spanish.
I grew up in an immigrant community. I was born in Puerto Rico, but my mother was Brazilian. My mother never did learn much English. It was a very frustrating language for her. I learned English from watching cartoons and television, but missed much of my first and second grade years, because I didn’t understand a word that the teacher said. My children speak three languages, but only want to speak English. They rarely even tell others that they speak another language. This process is pretty consistent through all the immigrant communities I have been in. The adults don’t always assimilate, but the children almost always do. The bottom line is that children that grow up in the US, want to be completely American, whether their parents do or not.
This phenomenon seems to be nearly universal among "second generation" kids in the USA. No matter whether the parents' mother tongue is Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Lativian, Thai or whatever, the kids only want to speak English!
I've seen or heard about this situation time and again from my foreign-born friends and colleagues. I think ca. 1/2 of the reason is simple rebellion against parental authority, while the other 1/2 reflects a desire not to be seen by their peers as anything other than 100% American.
Your experience is typical of everything that I have seen as well. I have worked hard at teaching my children all three languages, and about their culture as well. I would like to think that they will pass this on to their own children, but if I am honest with myself, I know that they won’t. Chances are that if I want my grandchildren to learn Spanish or Portuguese, I will have to teach them myself.
When my great grandfather arrived in the US from Wales in 1863, he sought out the Welsh community in Pennsylvania. The young lady he was courting was from Aberystwyth. He joined the Union army to gain her father's approval. Boot camp was held on the train enroute to the front lines. His unit was captured within days and he spent most of the war as a POW. At the end of the war, he returned to Pennsylvania and married my great grandmother. They insisted that their children speak only English. All 19 of them. It's a shame because the number of Welsh speakers in the world is small. All of the children were very successful. Most graduated from college and pursued engineering or farming.
Kudos to you for becoming fluent in English and bringing up your kids with the gift of multiple languages.
It's really a fascinating topic. I'll bet there are a number of academic studies on point, although I haven't seen them.
I got interested in the matter after my wife and I made the acquaintance of several ethnic Chinese immigrants from the tiny island nation of Mauritius.
These folks are totally at ease in four languages: English, standard Parisian French, the Hakka dialect of Chinese, and a French-based Creole.
As it turns out, they speak English with us and other American friends, Creole with their Mauritian friends, Chinese with their parents, and standard French at work -- switching back and forth without a second thought.
And of course, their kids adamantly refuse to speak anything but the "Britney Spears version" of English!
> The 2nd generation is tending toward rebellion and gang membership. <
In other words, “assimilation” isn’t always good. Too bad.
Yup. There are good things and bad things to assimilate. The immigrant parents were focused on helping the 1st gen kids to succeed in a new world. The children of the 1st gen aren't getting the same level of interest from their parents. They are assimilating the street culture and current pop culture. The affluence of their parents gives an incorrect impression of the effort required to be comfortable. Many will have a rude awakening when the financial umbilical is finally severed.
San Diego is a beautiful place. Would love to spend some time there, once I retire. (It will be a while) I realize that all Spanish speaking communities are not the same, and I know that So Cal has had more than its share of problems with the Mexican immigrants there. The Mexican community in GA is much different, and similar to the Puerto Rican community where I grew up. The old community is still there, but the kids are completely American.
Sadly, I didn’t realize that Welsh was even a language. I have known several people of Welsh decent, but no one ever told me that they had a unique language. Learn something new everyday.
When I traveled to Birmingham, AL, I chose to have dinner at a local Mexican restaurant. I speak just enough Spanish to avoid embarrassing myself in a restaurant. Good thing, as they spoke no English. I ordered a big bowl of menudo. It was excellent and apparently the favorite of nearly everyone at that restaurant. As a social setting, it seemed much calmer compared to the brash experiences in San Diego.
It is really difficult to "choose wisely" when it comes to a community area in San Diego. The violence, gangs and graffiti of the barrio is moving northward at a steady pace. The leading edge moved from Imperial Beach/San Ysidro in the early 80's to Mira Mesa by 2000. Just about 1 mile per year.
There is nothing wrong with speaking in Spanish, and many legal immigrants and American citizens speak Spanish. You seem to be confusing the term Spanish speaking with illegal immigrant.