Sacramento schools help students with dual language lessons
Bilingual schools are becoming popular as a great way for children from multicultural communities to find pathways to greater success. And being able to communicate in more than one language speaks to many parents in the Sacramento area.
Sacramento’s multicultural communities see opportunities to foster bilingual education in elementary schools in the City of Sacramento Unified School District.
According to Sacramento Area Council of Government22.8% of Sacramento’s population identifies as Hispanic or Latino, and 14.5% as Asian.
Giving children the tools to become bilingual members of society enables students to become more competitive candidates in their academic and professional careers.
Dr. Olga L. Simms, Directory of Multilingual Literacy at Sacramento City Unified School District says, “the goal is that by the end of these programs the students will be bilingual, bi-literate and bi-cultural.”
How are the dual language courses conducted?
SCUSD offers bilingual education in seven schools, with languages in Mandarin, Hmong and Spanish.
According to Simms, the program is taught in such a way that a student who begins the program in kindergarten will learn 90% of its material in the “target language” of Mandarin, Hmong or Spanish. The remaining 10% of the target material is taught in English.
As the day progresses, target language instruction decreases and English instruction increases.
How the application process works
William Land Elementary School, for example, offers a Mandarin immersion program. Applications open in January and, according to the school, demand for the program is high.
However, SCUSD accepts applications on a rolling basis for one of seven bilingual programs. Under the No Child Left Behind law, “Public school choiceoffers parents the opportunity to “enable them to transfer their children to schools with a track record of success and safety.”
According to Simms, the Multilingual Literacy Department reviews the number of applications submitted for language programs and then determines next steps based on need. The district decides to either add another class or start a new program.
Why learning dual languages is important
Students who begin dual language learning at a young age have a head start in high school prep classes. Additionally, California honors high school graduates with a bi-literacy seal on their degree.
This type of recognition helps students be more competitive in school and in the job market. And more.
“When we honor and support our students in their bilingualism, you’re not just preparing them for a global education,” Simms said. “You also promote inclusivity, respect, cultural awareness, cultural understanding of other races and other languages.”
Schools in Sacramento offering dual language courses
Mandarin Bilingual Programs
- Elder Creek Elementary School
- William Land Elementary School
Hmong Bilingual Programs
- Susan B. Anthony Elementary School
Spanish Bilingual Programs
- Edward Kemble Primary School
- Cesar Chavez Elementary School
- Ethel Phillips Elementary School
- Bowling Green Charter – Chacon Language and Science Academy
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