In a three-part series, Kalyn Belsha reports in Hoy on a new dual language program in CPS that builds on research showing the children who speak and write in more than one language show increased cognitive development, improved social relations, and ultimately better employment opportunities.
Because the articles are published in Spanish, we are posting English translations below the fold here.
A dual language pilot program in four schools, with outreach to another dozen schools where similar efforts are under way, represents an ambitious attempt to overhaul the district’s approach to bilingual and world language education – a departure from the single goal of proficiency in English.
CPS has 64,000 English-learning students, but native English speakers benefit from dual language instruction as well, research shows.
Previous dual language programs fell short by aiming at “early exit,” while it takes five to seven years to master two languages. At that point many dual language students begin to outperform English-only students, research shows.
So dual language programs require patience from administrators who are under pressure to produce higher test scores more quickly.
With no standardized test that measures bilingual achievement, dual language teachers now use a hodge-podge of independent assessment measures that take time from instruction and make it hard to compare data.
The State of Illinois is developing Spanish-language standards and assessments, but that is expected to take several years.
Meanwhile, with a new administration at CPS and continuing budget problems, the district’s long-term commitment to dual language programs remains to be seen. While federal stimulus funds that launched the pilot program have expired, the district has increased some funding for the program (while cutting professional development) – and has extended the pilot program at two schools.
Belsha’s three articles follow: