“Numerous studies have shown that individuals who are exposed to two languages at an early age, on average, outperform their monolingual peers on tests of cognitive function in adolescence and adulthood.”
by Andrew Warner
While roughly half the global population speaks at least two languages, only about 20% of U.S. residents can say the same.
Dual-language immersion programs, in which academic content is taught in two languages, help children become bilingual and offer a host of other benefits.
“The programs are really, I think, a silver bullet to ensure that all students achieve success in school and in life,” says Martha Hernandez, executive director of the language advocacy group Californians Together.
Dual-language immersion programs facilitate biliteracy – the ability to speak, listen, read and write proficiently in two languages – by taking advantage of young children’s propensity for language acquisition. Most programs start in kindergarten and follow children through elementary school, and some extend into middle or high school.
Classes generally consist of a half-and-half mix of native English speakers and native speakers of the target language. David Rogers, executive director of Dual Language Education New Mexico, a nonprofit that supports these programs, wrote in an email that this mix of students allows children to learn from and help one another. Spanish is the secondary language in about 80% of all dual-language programs, but there are also offerings in about two dozen other languages, including Chinese, French, Japanese, Russian and Hmong…
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