Arizona, like many states in the U.S., had explicitly banned bilingual education for students who were not already fluent in English. Instead, Arizonian school districts promoted a four-hour English immersion model: students spend hours every day segregated from their peers, two hours for advanced students, up to four hours (most of the school day) for beginner students, in an effort to learn English. This segregation has negative social/emotional learning impacts, according to district Superintendent Steve Holmes, who believes “it has created a stigma for students.”
Local school districts have petitioned for legislative change for years, and last week that change finally came to fruition. According to the news article, the law now allows, “school districts and charter schools to utilize structured English immersion and ‘alternative English instruction’ models of their choosing, as long as they are research-based and approved by the State Board of Education.”
With 5,000 of 45,000 students classified as English Language Learners, school districts are eager to begin implementing changes that will lead to success. The previous four-hour block often inhibited ELLs from graduating on time, but with the new law schools aim to restructure their curricula so “ELL high school students can earn credits toward graduation in content areas like history or science while also fulfilling English language development requirements.”
For content-learning success, Arizona is looking toward dual language immersion programs. Mary Carol Combs, a professor at the University of Arizona’s College of Education, believes this is the best course of action for Arizona’s ELLs: “Research has consistently shown that if you teach a child in his or her first language and develop literacy abilities, those abilities transfer into English,” Combs says. “What that essentially means is the more instruction a school provides in Spanish, the more English it will yield down the road.”
We at TWIN-CS are eager to see the expansion of dual language immersion. Please click here to read the full article.