Language Learning

5 Dual Language Program Benefits

I’m lucky that my son got a coveted spot in a dual language program (DLPs) in NYC.  I know many people have questions about how these programs work, so I wanted to share tips and insight from parents who have kids in DLPs, firsthand accounts on what they have experienced. Here are some benefits and challenges of dual language programs you should take into account if you are considering a dual language program.

Before I talk about the benefits, I want to highlight something to think about, the dual language program can be a very accelerated program. In many ways, children have to learn double the amount of material. As a dual language teacher explained to me, “the children are expected to learn 25 sight words in English and 25 sight words in Spanish, while general education kids are expected to learn only the sight words in English.”

This accelerated component of dual language programs is something that parents often don’t realize until they are in it. Kathryn, a parent whose child is in first grade in a Spanish dual language program in Astoria, NY, says “Something we did not really think about, was the fact that everything in English is accelerated. They only have instruction in English every other day, which means they are all learning to read in English, and meet Common Core standards in reading, writing, math, science, etc. in half the time as a regular class. Plus, they are learning to read, write, speak, and comprehend in Spanish. In this sense, it is a very accelerated program, but in a particular way: learning a language is a very particular form of learning, unlike doing extra projects, advanced math, etc.”

BENEFITS of a DUAL LANGUAGE PROGRAM

Dual language programs increase a child’s exposure and interest in other cultures (and their own). My son’s school is very diverse and celebrates that diversity. The dual language teachers work to promote and elevate the culture of Spanish-speaking countries. The children learn about the language, food, flags, culture, music. This has also allowed my son to ask questions about where he is from. The day he said “Soy ecuatoriano” I was so happy ( I also had to explain that he was also French, so it was a good conversation starter).

Ecuadorian flag

The monolingual parent may learn the language: Evelyn says a benefit of her son attending a dual language program is that her husband has been learning the language too: “It’s been good because my husband has been learning the language.”
 

The social and cultural benefits: Kathryn says “There is also the cultural and social knowledge that comes from having lots of friends from Spanish-speaking families. When we go to birthday parties or have class parties, not all the adults speak the same language, so there are new challenges and opportunities to really get to know families we might not otherwise meet.”

Display of multiculturalism at my son’s school

Major brain exercise: “Our son’s mind is being stretched in so many ways! Even when he cannot explain in English why or how he knows something in Spanish, he does know it and that is incredible to see.”

 

Biliteracy: My son is learning to read in Spanish! That is a tremendous benefit that dual language programs provide, a skill that may be harder to achieve at home without formalized learning.

Does your child attend a dual language program?

What do you love about it?

 
 
*This post is part of MomsRising’s #BilingualRisers campaign. Check out their resources in English and Spanish.
Diana Limongi
welcome! I'm a Latina working mom from Astoria, NY, mom to a trilingual four-year old. I blog about motherhood, Latino issues, women's issues, work/life balance, food, parenting and raising my multilingual and multicultural son!

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