Q: How does the program work?
A: The ¨target language¨ of instruction is either Spanish, Mandarin, or French. In a 90:10 program, this means that students will learn academic standards in the target language in kindergarten, with the 10% of English instruction focused on literacy skills that are unique to English (such as specific phonetic sounds and oral language.) Teachers use strategies (visuals, hands-on experiences, etc.) that help students transfer the content they learn in one language to the other, without the need to repeat lessons in both languages, mix languages, or rely on translation to help students. As the percentage of English instruction increases across the grade levels, subject areas beyond language arts will also be taught in English, prompting the students to master academic subjects in both languages. See PUSD’s Dual Language Immersion Program Master Plan for the breakdown of the content areas taught in each language.
Q: How can students learn in a language they don't yet speak or understand?
A: Critical period theories of language development suggest that before puberty, the brain readily absorbs a second language. Teachers strategically convey instructional content using songs, visual aids, gestures, and many hands-on activities to help students learn. They also provide many opportunities to practice oral language skills through structured conversation with peers and opportunities for presentational speaking.
Q: How do dual language immersion students perform on standardized tests?
A: PUSD curriculum is aligned with California Common Core State Standards in all subjects. Research shows that dual language immersion students have generally achieved the same results or better than their mainstream peers on the English Language Arts California Standards Test (ELA CST), which has been replaced with the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) in California.
Q: How long will it take for my child to become bilingual?
A: Language acquisition takes approximately seven years in an intensive learning environment. Continuous participation in the DLIP through at least 6th grade is recommended for students to demonstrate the cognitive, academic, and linguistic benefits of bilingualism. In order to reap the full linguistic and cognitive advantages of advanced language proficiency, students should plan to continue immersion into high school. Starting in early elementary (if continuously enrolled) can lead to intermediate, pre-advanced, or advanced levels of proficiency by the end of high school.
Q: How many students in a class will be native speakers of the target language?
A: Because student interaction facilitates higher levels of language proficiency, the goal is to maintain a balanced representation of native English speakers and native speakers of the target language, with 33%-66% of the students dominant in the target language and 33%-66% of the students dominant in English.