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Utah County tells parents how to ask for immersion

June 5, 2012

The ability to speak more than one language is an asset to the individual, the community in which that person lives, and the world at large. Many adults who know only one language often lament the fact that they never had an opportunity to learn another language. But monolingualism can be cured! In fact, all over Utah, Dual Language Immersion (DLI) programs are doing just that.

Sponsored and promoted by the Utah State Office of Education (USOE), these DLI programs begin in 1st grade and are offered in Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese, and French. DLI programs are predominantly in public schools; they teach the Utah Core. The beauty is that children in a DLI program learn academic content in two languages. They spend half the day learning part of their content in English, and half the day learning other content in the target language. A DLI program does not require the hiring of more teachers. Two classes share two teachers: one class spends the morning with the English-speaking teacher and the afternoon with the target-language-speaking teacher, while the other class follows the reverse order. USOE offers financial support in the form of curriculum and materials ($10,000 per program per year) as well as training for teachers.

Schools in Utah have been offering DLI programs since 2006; by the beginning of next school year, there will be 80 such programs. The governor and USOE have a goal of 100 DLI programs in operation by the year 2015. DLI programs are always a choice within a school; no one is forcing parents to send their children to a DLI program. But many parents are eager to have this unique opportunity for their children. In fact, most DLI programs have a waiting list.

Why are there no DLI programs in Cache Valley, even though many schools in Utah have them, including both a Spanish and a Mandarin program in Brigham City? Because parents have not made their wishes known to the school boards persistently enough. Please watch the “Utah Dual Immersion” video on YouTube or on the USOE website. See if this is something you would want for your child. If you wish to join the efforts to convince the Logan and/or Cache County School Districts to begin offering a DLI program, please talk to the principal at your neighborhood school and the school board members of your district. Also, please join the Facebook page “Cache Valley Parents for Dual Language Immersion.” I have no doubt that DLI programs will eventually come to Cache Valley, but it is up to the stakeholders — namely, parents of preschoolers — to make it happen.

Karin deJonge-Kannan




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