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7 things to know about dual-language schools in LA

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First grader Elizabeth Gatlardo reads a Spanish-language science textbook at George Brown Elementary, a dual-language school in San Bernardino, on Monday morning, May 4, 2015. The Common Core standards come with suggested English-language texts that illustrate the concepts which students need to learn for each standard. Former principal Lorraine Perez says she is not convinced that translating English-language texts would help students’ learning in Spanish.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
First grader Elizabeth Gatlardo reads a Spanish-language science textbook at George Brown Elementary, a dual-language school in San Bernardino, on Monday morning, May 4, 2015.

Dual-language schools, also known as two-way immersion schools, are becoming a popular option for parents in Southern California.

This week on Take Two, we've been talking through the various school options here in Southern California.  

Today, we're tackling dual-language schools.

If you speak another language at home, or would love for your child to be able to converse in French, Mandarin or Spanish, these campuses, also known as two-way immersion schools, could be a great option.

Southern California Public Radio's Early Childhood Education correspondent Deepa Fernandes shared a variety of viewpoints on dual language learning, and here are a few of them:

  • Everything is taught in the language of that school. Whatever you would normally do in a kindergarten day (or in a traditional kindergarten day), you’ll could be doing completely if the school is a 90-10 model. That means 90 percent of the teaching will be done in the immersion language, which won’t be English … it could be Spanish, Mandarin, or something else.

  • The amount of dual language schools in Southern California numbers in the hundreds, and that number is growing. School districts each year are announcing new programs. Most of them are in Spanish, but programs in Mandarin, Korean, German and even Vietnamese are starting to be established.

  • There are different approaches to immersion. One is the aforementioned 90-10 model, but there’s also a 50-50 model where half of the learning day is in English, and the other is in the target language.

  • Research has pointed to a variety of benefits, especially when it comes to the cognitive benefits to the executive function — this doesn’t mean one becomes simply smarter, but could be more adept at mentally switching from one thing to the other. There’s also research pointing to the social benefits of biligualism, such as honing the ability to understand intent.

  • In public schools, if your school district has open enrollment, you can likely go to any campus and find a dual language program. One thing to note — because of the growth in popularity, there are now more parents than ever who want in. Some have even moved to be closer to a dual language program. This means waiting lists. 

  • If you’re trying to pick a program, ask if there are two teachers, or a teacher and an aide, who are fluent, native in the target language. That way, children can see how the language is applied in conversation.

  • Be prepared for some extra commitment. This kind of learning can call for more involvement to see if your child is on track.

Series: Good Schools

As part of its Good Schools series, Take Two looks at the education landscape in the Los Angeles area. That includes its public schools, magnets, charters, private institutions and dual-language programs. You’ll hear from parents, academics, teachers, kids and even a couple of TV show producers.

Read more in this series and let us know your thoughts on Facebook, or tweet us


with the hashtag #goodschools.

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