Why Dual Language?
Students who participate in dual language immersion (DLI) receive instruction in two language to become bilingual, bi-literate and develop the cultural competency to succeed in a global society. Studies show (Thomas and Collier 2009) and our data confirm that historically underserved students, especially Emerging Bilinguals (students whose first language is the “partner” language, not English), attain greater academic success when they participate in this program.
Furthermore, being bilingual brings a number of well documented cognitive, academic and employment benefits. Research shows people who are bilingual demonstrate greater cognitive flexibility, increased attention control, better memory, and superior problem solving skills as well as enhanced understanding of their primary language. (Lindholm-Leary 2001) Even though DLI students spend half their academic day or more English they tend to outperform their non-immersion on academic achievement tests in English (Turnbull, Hart &Lapkin 2000). In the 21st century being able to conduct business or professional discussions in more than one language is essential. Many local and global employers need a multilingual workforce to remain competitive.
DLI also offers children whose heritage is the partner language (Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese and Japanese) and culture the opportunity to develop a positive linguistic and cultural identity that allows them to better connect with their parents, relatives and community.
History of Dual Language Immersion at Portland Public Schools:
Portland Public Schools has offered Spanish language instruction since 1986 and later added Japanese, Chinese, Russian while expanding Spanish to more schools. In 2012, the Department of Dual Language was created with the specific goal of supporting the District’s Racial Educational Equity Policy by increasing linguistically and culturally-relevant instructional programming for English language learners. PPS added Oregon’s first Vietnamese immersion program and added Native Language literacy classes in both Vietnamese and Somali. In 2018, PPS is proposing the addition of an Arabic Dual Lanuguage Immersion program.