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Want to geek out about dual-language immersion?

May 22, 2016

You can hear author Diane August, a managing researcher and director of the Center for English Language Learners at the American Institutes for Research, discuss the report in a short introductory video below.




Don’t say I didn’t warn you. But if you, like me, can think of no better pleasure then spending a Sunday afternoon reading a 125 page U.S. Department of Education report on how states around the country are organizing their dual-language (that’s immersion to parents) programs, here’s your chance.

The report, Dual Language Education Programs: Current State Polices and Practices, is available here. It was published last month and I became aware of it through one of my beloved language immersion administrator friends.

The highlights:

  • Dual language (i.e. immersion) programs are increasingly popular nationwide.
  • It’s hard to even study them because there’s no single name they go by nationally.
  • States are all over the map in terms of defining what dual language education looks like and what models to use.
  • Most states don’t prescribe a particular model, leaving program design up to school districts and often schools.
  • State “Seals of Biliteracy” are increasingly common as a way for states to recognize high school students who have attained proficiency in two languages (i.e. English and one other.) Eleven states and the District of Columbia have such programs.
  • However there’s still no overall consensus on what “proficiency” means by the end of high school.
  • The ACTFL standards seem to be the most commonly adopted as benchmarks for where students are in their language ability. However what level they have to attain isn’t uniform across states or even within states.
  • Only three states have used the ACTFL proficiency standards to set grade-level targets: North Carolina, Ohio and Utah.
  • Only five states requires states to assess students’ progress in their “partner language” (in our case Mandarin) at least once a year: Delaware, Kentucky, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah.
  • Finding quality teachers remains a challenge for dual-language programs.


The good news is that the Department of Education is beginning to study dual language programs. The bad news is that there’s far too little information out there yet about what they do and how they do it – even less about what they should be doing.



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