Because general subjects are taught in two languages, dual language immersion produces bilingual citizens.
At Dolores Huerta International Academy, nearly everything Maria Villalobos says to her kindergarten class is in Spanish. Only half of her students speak Spanish at home.
“Bilingual education in the past was for our Spanish speakers, but they’d take Spanish away, usually by second grade,” said Maribel Lopez-Tyus, principal of Dolores Huerta International Academy in the Fontana Unified School District. When she entered kindergarten, she was “not speaking a word of English.”
“That program was not for bilingualism, it was to teach English as fast as you can, then take away the Spanish,” she said.
English language learners no longer spend entire years in classes in their native language. But students who have grown up speaking English, are now signing up for classes taught in Spanish. Parents sign a waiver to allow their children to be taught math, social studies, and other subjects in Spanish.
According to the California Department of Education, dual language immersion programs have become common in the last ten years. More than two dozen dual language immersion programs are offered in the Los Angeles Unified School District alone, most of them in Spanish or Korean paired with English. The district just opened its first dual language Armenian program at Mountain View Elementary School in Tujunga, where approximately 80 percent of students come from an Armenian background.
The objective of dual language immersion schools is to produce bilingual citizens who can function comfortably in both languages in speaking, reading, and thinking.