Massachusetts falls farther behind in language education

LANGUAGE word cloud, education business conceptAs dual-language programs are added around the country, Massachusetts falls farther behind in promoting language education:

School leaders in New York City, the nation’s largest district, are expanding their dual-language offerings beyond Spanish and Mandarin to include Russian, Hebrew, Japanese, and Haitian Creole.

The Houston school district opened an Arabic-language school this year, in part because the metropolitan region has seen its Arabic-speaking population spike in recent years.

And in the Westminster, Calif., schools, the state’s first Vietnamese dual-language program opened in Little Saigon, a Vietnamese enclave in Orange County.

Education Week: Districts Diversify Languages Offered in Dual-Immersion

Webinar: The Benefits of Dual-Language Learning

White House Task Force on New Americans Offers Fourth of Educational and Linguistic Integration Webinar Series, on “The Benefits of Dual-Language Learning,”

Wednesday, September 30, 2015, 2–3 p.m.

This webinar—co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA)—explores the growing body of evidence suggesting that dual-language learners—those who are exposed to more than one language during the course of their development—have cognitive, meta-cognitive, and socio-emotional advantages over children who were exposed to only one language. Among immigrants, higher levels of English fluency and skill are also correlated with higher levels of education and longer residency in the United States. Panelists will share current research and promising practices for promoting biliteracy and increasing English proficiency in immigrant communities.

The webinar link will soon be posted on the webinar series page of OELA’s website, where you can also find materials from past webinars.

Include bilingual instruction for all students in ESEA reauthorization

A commentary in Education Week supporting expanded bilingual education in ESEA reauthorization:

While employers are clamoring for bilingual or even multilingual employees for an increasingly globalized economy, U.S. schools turn out relatively few students who are even somewhat competent in a second language. Hard figures are unavailable, but we know that only 5 percent of the 4.2 million Advanced Placement exams given in 2014 were in a foreign language, and only slightly more than half these students scored a 4 or a 5. That’s about 100,000 students—about six-tenths of 1 percent of the country’s nearly 16 million high school students. Most egregiously, instead of maintaining and building on the home-language abilities of 11 million students in our public schools, we actually attempt to quash them, if only by neglect.

Education Week: Congress: Bilingualism Is Not a Handicap

Boston Globe editorial urges bilingual education for Boston schools

A Boston Globe editorial on July 13, 2015 urges superintendent Chang to increase bilingual and dual language education in Boston Public Schools:

When it comes to educating the surging immigrant population in Boston, many in educational and political circles ignore the evidence of failure all around them. The achievement gap for so-called English-language learners — students enrolled in school but without English proficiency — promises to haunt Boston for a generation unless the ineffective and highly unsuccessful English immersion mandate is reversed. The Boston Public Schools continue to watch these students fall through the cracks. Their dropout rates are consistently higher, and they have among the lowest MCAS scores in the city. Saving more of these students from a life without meaningful educational achievement stands as one of the signal challenges for new superintendent Tommy Chang. Read more…

The Boston Globe: Bring back bilingual education for Boston schools

Bilingual by 2026

A report on Dual Language programs in a Seattle school district.

“This is Lucas,” says a first-grader, introducing his friend. “A long time ago in kindergarten, he used to not know Spanish.” “Yeah, I learned a lot more,” Lucas says. Another student agrees that Lucas has improved: “Yeah, he’s saying a lot of words and compound words in Spanish.”

KUOW.org: Bilingual by 2026: Highline Schools Aim For Dual-Language Graduates

Shortage of Dual Language Teachers

The Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) has cited finding highly qualified teachers as the greatest challenge in implementing an immersion program. Aside from needing to be fluent in the target language, teachers also need to be competent in language learning strategies and the relevant pedagogical skills.

The LOOK Bill will create a certification for Dual Language educators in Massachusetts.

Education Week: Shortage of Dual-Language Teachers: Filling the Gap