The first two blog entries of this series identified the characteristics and benefits of two-way dual language immersion (TWDLI) programs. So now, I’d like to highlight a few specific programs, starting in this entry with a school about a mile up the street from my home in Davis, CA. In my first entry, I mentioned that I had attended this school for my kindergarten and first-grade years; at this time, Marguerite Montgomery Elementary School (MMES) housed both a conventional English program and a full Spanish immersion program.
However, about seven years ago, MMES converted its Spanish immersion program to a[url=https://montgomery.djusd.net/instruction_and_learning/two_way_bilingual_immersion] TWDLI program[/url] (called two-way bilingual immersion in this district). The school opted for the 90 percent/10 percent model described in the first blog entry — in kindergarten, students are taught 90 percent in Spanish and 10 percent in English, and by fourth grade, students are taught 50 percent in each language. According to a[url=https://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/montgomerys-dual-immersion-program-draws-praise/] Davis Enterprise article by Anne Ternus-Bellamy[/url], this program was organized to support both the significant portion of students learning English as a second language at MMES, as well as the strong interest of families throughout Davis in providing their children with the highest quality methodology for learning a second language at an early age.
As described in the MMES Two-Way Bilingual Immersion brochure (“Celebrating the Cultural Richness of our World”), the impetus behind this decision maps closely to the benefits of such programs that are cited in my last blog entry. District and school administrators had examined the longitudinal studies that exemplified the advantages for speakers of both Spanish and English as first languages. In addition to students achieving academic success in two languages, educators also aim for students to gain cognitive flexibility, cultural awareness, and a sense of community responsibility. Longer-term, the hope is that eventual career opportunities are broadened through this bilingual and globally-focused program.
Dovetailing with the[url=https://www.edutopia.org/article/dual-immersion-solution] Edutopia[/url] article referenced in the last blog entry,[url=https://montgomery.djusd.net/resources/parents] MMES established an English Learner Advisory Committee (ELAC)[/url], which works closely with the PTA to encourage involvement in school business by parents who speak languages other than English.[url=https://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/montgomerys-dual-immersion-program-draws-praise/] Ternus-Bellamy’s article[/url], referenced earlier, confirms that parents speaking Spanish as their first language feel empowered to offer their skills in the setting of this TWDLI program. In addition, as reported in the[url=https://www.davisenterprise.com/features/empower-yolo-mme-resource-center-offers-broad-assistance/] Davis Enterprise by Natalia Baltazar[/url], a county organization runs an Elementary Family Resource Center on the MMES campus as a satellite to its location downtown; this center offers a suite of services for Davis students and their families who may benefit from educational, language, health, and household resources.
The school campus has a welcoming presence. Opened relatively recently in 2001, MMES is in good repair compared to older campuses, and it encompasses garden boxes tended by students and a popular play structure with adjacent, ample playing fields.
Interestingly, there is a discrepancy between the standard English program and the TWDLI program at MMES. In the Davis school district, students can request an intra-district transfer from their zoned neighborhood school to another school in the district; this is common when there is interest in nontraditional programs, such as a Montessori approach, a Spanish immersion program, or this TWDLI program. So, according to a[url=https://www.davisvanguard.org/2018/03/view-failed-montgomery-montgomery-not-failed-us/] 2018 article in the Davis Vanguard by David Greenwald[/url] and a[url=https://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/school-board-hears-presentation-on-program-issues-at-montgomery-elementary/] Davis Enterprise article by Jeff Hudson[/url], approximately half of the TWDLI student population comes from Davis neighborhoods beyond the MMES neighborhood school zone. However, almost 40 percent of students who live in the MMES neighborhood school zone opt to attend an elementary school in Davis other than MMES. This has left the traditional English program within MMES struggling for resources and support, setting the stage for families and district administrators to seek solutions to this disparity.
According to a[url=https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/el/rm/davisrootcause.asp] California Department of Education report on MMES[/url] and another[url=https://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/possible-changes-at-montgomery-on-school-board-agenda/] Davis Enterprise article by Jeff Hudson[/url], the school has decided to phase out the standard English program and convert to a full TWDLI program over the next few years. This decision was based on the clear academic advantages of the TWDLI programs, as well as the benefits to the community of expanded cultural integration and inclusiveness.
If you are interested in supporting this aspect of bilingualism and multicultural connections, please refer back to the end of my second blog entry on this topic for some possible ideas!
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