In the fall, about 200 children in kindergarten and first grade will be enrolled in the dual language program at Washington School, a program in which native Spanish speaking and native English speaking children learn both languages together. Each year District 75 adds another grade to the program, which will eventually result in the elimination of its Spanish only Bilingual program. In the meantime, teachers in both programs are working on Curriculum Mapping using the Biliteracy Unit Framework. The goal for this program is that all students enrolled will become bilingual and biliterate. In TWI students spend 50 percent of their day with a teacher who speaks only Spanish to them and 50 percent of their day with a different teacher who speaks only English to them.
“One of the professional responsibilities of educators includes staying current with their national standards and the implications for their students. As such, the teachers in the Two Way Immersion program have been working on ensuring all state standards are met,” said Dan Swartz, Director of Teaching and Learning. “In addition, these teachers use a set of standards designed to help students who are non-native English speakers learn English and specific Spanish language arts standards that reinforce the Spanish language for those non-native speakers.”
Mr. Swartz added, “What is key during this work, which often requires teachers to collaborate more often, is to ensure that the same content is not taught in both languages. If we did this we’d run out of time very quickly. In addition, It forces students to build their academic vocabulary in both languages and to be more in tune to the lessons without waiting for the ‘translated lesson’.”
“Students benefit from this model,” said Olga Karwoski, of the Center for Teaching for Biliteracy, who works with teachers in District 75. “They become more engaged and feel proud and confident of their bilingualism. This type of instruction allows for more student interaction and inquiry while the teachers provide the language scaffolds necessary,”
According to the U.S. Department of Education not only is biliteracy beneficial during a child’s school years but it is also of great benefit in the job market. One-half to two-thirds of adults around the world speak at least two languages. In today’s global society, they have many advantages. Globally, bilingual and biliterate adults have more job opportunities than monolingual adults, a Department of Education report states.