Dual-language immersion programs in Colorado are a cost-effective way to increase equity and access in the United States. These programs promote high levels of academic achievement through two-language teaching, bilingualism, bilingual literacy, and greater awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity. A recent study conducted by the American Research Center (ARC) revealed that there are more than 3,600 dual-language immersion (DLI) programs in the United States. Spanish programs account for approximately 80% of all DLI programs, followed by Chinese (8.6%) and French (5.0%).
Commenting on the importance of DLI programs in increasing student achievement, ARC's director of bilingual studies, Mr. Gregg Roberts, stated: “The geographical distribution of the DLI is encouraging. These programs are a cost-benefit approach to increasing equity and responsible access in the U. S.
UU.” At Summit Middle School (SMS), students enrolled in the dual language program have an extended (block) class that incorporates design thinking in the Spanish language arts. During this course, which is offered every other day during the school year, students develop their skills in Spanish in the areas of speaking, listening, reading and writing. Dual-language immersion not only improves content development in two languages but also literacy in both languages, so that students graduate prepared for university, career and life in a globally competitive economy and a collaborative international community. Silverthorne Elementary School is one example of a school that offers a Dual Language (DL) program where students receive 50% of their instruction in English and 50% in Spanish every day in subjects including literacy, mathematics, science and social studies.
At these types of events, students enrolled in the SHS dual language program can serve as school tour guides for students and their families who speak Spanish, read in Spanish at literacy events, and offer bilingual day care. Each school that hosted a program, whether it was an elementary school or a DLI high school, was counted separately. In addition to Spanish courses, other academic and elective courses are available where instruction and content are taught entirely in Spanish or 50% in Spanish and 50% in English. The vision of the Summit School District's dual language program is based on guidance from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) and is based on the principles of additive bilingualism and cultural pluralism.
In central Colorado alone there are more than 3,600 dual-language immersion schools offering students an opportunity to learn two languages while developing their academic skills. By taking advantage of these programs, students can gain a competitive edge when it comes to university admissions and career opportunities.