Programs in Two Languages – A Growing Focus in USA

Programs in Two Languages – A Growing Focus in USA

Though speaking a language other than English in schools in the United States has often not been a focus until recent years, other developed countries typically view the command of two or more languages as practically essential to a well-rounded, economically-productive education, says a research article The Latino Education Crisis—Rescuing the American Dreamwhich addresses the idea that knowing two languages is a benefit. As many of these countries are now overtaking the US in average years of education, America is now growing in popularity with bilingual programs and dual language programs.

The article also points out that though English as a world language may free Americans from the need to speak other languages, it’s taking away the advantages of being able to speak directly and in a culturally-appropriate way to business partners, clients and colleagues in other parts of the world, as well as those within our own borders whose native language is not English and who increasingly represent a vast market opportunity, it says.

Along with developing a lifelong ability to communicate with individuals from other backgrounds and countries, other advantages include superior problem-solving skills and improved school performance, states The Benefits of Second Language Study,” a 2007 compilation of scholarly articles from NEA Research. It also says that English language learners, children from economically disadvantaged and backgrounds, and children of color have the greatest proportionate achievement gains from learning a second language.

Probably most important of all, though, is how students feel once they’ve reached fluency in two languages. Quotes, for instance, from the 2016 journal article Students’ Perceptions of Bilingualism in Spanish and Mandarin Dual Language Programs included many students saying they were proud of being bilingual, and that it was fun. Other emotionally-laden adjectives from students included “awesome,” “cool,” “fascinating,” “magnificent,” “feels good,” “it’s a privilege,” and “makes me happy.”

By providing parent involvement programs and training for teachers for Latino English learners, The Latino Family Literacy Project gives American schools the foundation they need as they come on board with the idea that knowing two or more languages is actually a benefit. Understanding how reading helps tremendously in becoming literate and eventually fluent in a language, the organization’s age-specific programs are designed to establish family reading routines for parents and their children on the school site.

Teachers are trained in these programs through a half-day in-person workshop or a 1 ½ hour online webinar for those who cannot attend in-person. Each one provides training for the implementation of all of the organization’s various programs: infant/toddler, preschool, elementary, and middle/high school levels. Curriculum manuals are shipped in advance for review during the online training. For more information, please contact The Latino Family Literacy Project.