“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.” —Frank Smith, psycholinguist
An article written by Tom Torlakson, California Superintendent of Public Instruction, summarizes California’s current efforts to increase access to foreign language education amongst K-12 students.
The importance of early total immersion in another language cannot be understated. Dual language immersion programs, often beginning in Kindergarten, are designed to deliver instruction in both English and another language in the school setting. While some states offer English/Spanish dual immersion, dual language programs in California also exist with a variety of other languages, including Mandarin, Korean, Vietnamese, and Portuguese. Displaying the public’s interest in dual language immersion programs, Proposition 58 was passed by a large margin in the state in 2016, which aimed to remove many barriers to setting up dual immersion programs. Despite this, establishment of these programs has been limited, partially due to a shortage of bilingual teachers. As there remain not enough programs to meet the need of all families in California, a lottery system often has to be used, ultimately leaving out many other families who would otherwise be interested in dual immersion enrollment.
Torlakson’s initiative, known as Global California 2030, has goals including:
quadrupling the number of dual language immersion programs by 2030.
doubling the number of world language classes taught in California schools
more than doubling the number of bilingual teachers authorized each year
more than tripling the number of graduating high school students who receive a state seal of biliteracy on their diplomas.
Recently passed in the Senate, Assembly Bill 2514 aims to provide 10 grants of $300,000 to be used for additional funding for dual-language immersion programs. As the benefits of learning a second language at an early age are well known, it is hopeful the current legislative efforts will set a standard for improving foreign language acquisition across the country to our youth.
For more information, see the following references:
https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/soapbox/article216851715.html: Accessed 09/19/18
https://www.cde.ca.gov/eo/in/documents/globalca2030report.pdf: Accessed 09/19/18