Dual Language Immersion Program

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Clark Elementary
335 1st Ave SE, Issaquah, WA 98027

Issaquah Valley Elementary
555 NW Holly St, Issaquah, WA 98027

The Dual Language Immersion Program is currently offered to Issaquah Valley Elementary and Clark Elementary attendance area families.

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Issaquah Elementary Education Department-Dual Language Program
Laura Maloney

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Dual Language Program in the Issaquah School District:
Creating bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural learners

The ISD Spanish-English Dual Language Immersion Program is housed at Clark and Issaquah Valley Elementary Schools with the intent to serve students in these two schools' attendance areas. Each year, during the Kindergarten Registration window, students who will be entering Kindergarten the following fall are eligible to apply. Kindergarten students who enter the Dual Language Program will form a cohort that will potentially continue through high school. This requires a long-term commitment to the program.

Spanish-English Dual Language Immersion Program in the ISD
Programa de inmersión de idioma dual en español-inglés en el ISD

What is a Dual Language Program?

Dual language education programs integrate English speaking students with native Spanish speaking students. Academic instruction is presented in both languages. Social and academic learning occurs in an environment that values the language and culture of all students and sets high standards to ultimately achieve academic success in both Spanish and English.

Issaquah’s Spanish-English Dual Language Program, also known as two-way immersion, will use a 50:50 model. Fifty percent of the instruction will occur in English and fifty percent of the instruction is in Spanish. The goal is to balance the number of students in each class with half who are native Spanish speakers and half who are English speakers. Students are exposed to the same curriculum as their peers while also having the opportunity to learn a second language.

Dual Language Program Goals

Students in dual language programs are presented with the social and cognitive benefits of bilingualism. They gain a second language, a broader vocabulary, and multiple views of the world. In order to acquire these benefits, the program sets out to accomplish, over a number of years of participation in the program, the following goals:

  • Develop bilingualism, biliteracy and biculturalism—promoting cross-cultural understanding and skills.
  • Develop high levels of proficiency in Spanish and English.
  • Help students achieve grade level academic performance in Spanish and English.
  • Raise self-esteem for all children.
  • Improve cognitive ability.
  • Take advantage of the optimal window of learning a second language during the primary years.

What Research Says About Dual Language

Multiple benefits exist for acquiring a second language starting in the primary years. Some of these benefits include:

  • Considerable research over several decades demonstrates that additive bilingual [learning a new language while maintaining the first language] programs are associated with content area achievement and proficiency in the second language and the home language (e.g., Genesee et al., 2006; Lindholm-Leary & Howard, 2001; Lindholm-Leary & Genesee, 2010; US Department of Education, 2012)
  • Students who acquire advanced levels of proficiency in second languages often experience certain cognitive and linguistic advantages when compared to monolingual students. (Cummins, 1981; Lambert, Genesee, Holobow & Chartrand, 1993)
  • The average time required to reach native-like proficiency and grade-level achievement is six years (Carroll & Baily, 2015; Genesee et al., 2006; Hill, Weston & Hayes 2014; Lindholm-Leary & Genesee, 2010; Parrish et al., 2006; Thompson. 2015; Umansky & Reardon, 2014).
  • Early foreign language study gives children unique insight into other cultures and builds their cultural competency skills in a way that no other discipline is able to do. (Curtain & Dahlberg 2004)
  • The resulting benefits to self-image, self-esteem, and satisfaction with school experience are enormous. Evidence from several studies show language students have a significantly higher self-concept than do non-language students. (Masciantonio 1977, Saunders 1998, Andrade, et al.1989)

Video: Dual Language, an advantage in life (Spanish with English subtitles) 

Preview image for Dual Language, an advantage in life) 02:57
Dual Language, an advantage in life Carmen Fariña, schools chancellor of NYC, talks about the importance of speak... Posted January 21, 2016

Deciding if the Dual Language Program Is Right for Your Family

Issaquah School District’s Dual Language Program requires a commitment from the entire family. Students learn both English and Spanish language during the day, while parents are encouraged to support their child’s acquisition of both languages at home. Children who have a love of learning, age-appropriate language development, and support and encouragement from home will find success in the dual language program.

Your child is a good candidate for the dual language if he or she:

  • Expresses an interest in different people, places, and things.
  • Wants to become fluent in Spanish and English.
  • Is developmentally on target in his or her native language.

The program is a good fit for families that:

  • Value other cultures – the people, art, history, etc.
  • Support learning a second language and encourage practicing the language at home.
  • Are willing to participate in school projects and activities.
  • Are willing to commit to a minimum of 6 years of dual language.