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I wrote this story ahead of the November election, when Prop 58 was one of more than a dozen propositions on the California ballot.
California voters will decide at the polls whether dual-language immersion programs can be more widely adopted in the Golden State – undoing the provisions of a 1998 measure that requires learning be ‘overwhelmingly in English.’
Published Oct. 30, 2016
GLENDALE, CALIF.—In Room 3202 at Thomas Edison Elementary School, Spanish posters, signs, and calendars cover the walls. Rosalinda Gallegos, who teaches the class, gives instructions in Spanish. And when they break into groups to work on their assignments, students chatter away in Spanish, as well. But Ms. Gallegos isn’t, strictly speaking, only a “Spanish teacher.”
The class is one of 17 that make up the dual-language program at Edison Elementary, a K-6 school in Glendale, just north of Los Angeles. For half the day, fifth graders enrolled in the program come into Ms. Gallegos’s class and study science, art, and social studies entirely in Spanish. They spend the other half of the day learning math, computer science, and P.E. in English.
The model helps English learners master grade-level content in their native language while developing English skills, say educators with the Glendale Unified School District. At the same time, the program exposes native English speakers to instruction in a second language.
“The advantage of being instructed in both languages is that the students become truly biliterate,” says Gallegos, who has two children enrolled in the school’s dual-immersion classes. “And I always say to them, ‘If you can think in two languages, you’re worth two people.’ ”