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Pittsburg Unified School District

Every Scholar, Every Day. They Deserve Nothing Less Than Our Best.

Pittsburg Unified School District

Every Scholar, Every Day. They Deserve Nothing Less Than Our Best.
Dual Immersion FAQs

Dual Immersion FAQs

What is the Dual Immersion Education?

The Dual Immersion program at Foothill Elementary and Willow Cove Elementary offers children a unique and exciting opportunity to learn to read, write and communicate naturally in two languages, English and Spanish. Dual Immersion is a 90/10 model standards based educational program. This program provides a sound basis for academic excellence for all students as well as meets the goal for foreign language learning as a core subject in high school.

What are the Critical Components of the Dual Immersion Program (Vision)?

1) Classes made up of 1/3 Spanish speakers, 1/3 bilingual, and 1/3 English only speakers
2) Instruction of State curriculum and academic standards
3) Highly trained and committed quality teachers
4) High standards where language instruction is integrated with challenging academic instruction
5) Parent involvement
6) Strong administrative support
7) Integration with other school programs
8) Cross-cultural emphasis

How Do We Know It Will Work?

Research studies and established programs show the 90/10 Dual Language Immersion Model to be the most effective way to become proficient in two languages. Dr. Kathryn Lindholm Leary's cross-sectional and longitudinal study represents 7,120 students in 20 schools. Wayne Thomas and Virginia Collier's longitudinal study represents 700,000 English Learner students from five large urban and suburban districts. Results are similar: Proficiency in both languages is established and students in 90/10 programs developed higher levels of bilingual proficiency than in other program models. It is based on existing programs which Foothill teachers visit, study and adapt to meet the needs of our students. The focus is on bilingual/biliterate skills as an asset.

Why wait for my child to learn a second language in middle and high school?

The Critical Period Theory explains that the brain easily acquires second (and more) languages before puberty, while middle and high school foreign language programs address language learning after the onset of puberty, skipping the developmental stages of the early years and reducing the opportunities for natural language acquisition.

Will a second language interfere with my child's English ability?

No. Research done by Cummins (1981), Lambert, Genesee, Holobow and Chartrand (1993) show that students who acquire advanced levels of proficiency in two languages often experience cognitive and linguistic advantages when compared to monolingual students. Bilingual students perform better on tasks that require divergent thinking, pattern recognition, and problem solving, and have enhanced levels of metalinguistic awareness. (Adams, 1990)  

Do Dual Language students learn the same curriculum as the regular English Programs?

Absolutely! The standards and curriculum of Foothill are the same as for all students in the Pittsburg Unified School District. The only difference is the language of instruction.

Does it matter if no one at home speaks the second language?

No. English must be continually developed and supported in the home. Read to your children daily! Continue the literacy experiences you would naturally encourage. One of the advantages of this program is that students with strong English succeed well. Children often start to apply the literacy skills, which they have learned in the first language to the second language.

How will my child understand if she/he does not speak the second language?

Teachers in the Dual Language Immersion Program are specially trained to make the information meaningful through the use of visuals, objects, gestures, and specialized instructional strategies. Students also help each other.

What about reading in English?

In order to avoid confusion, the language of instruction is separated and gradually shifts from mostly Spanish to half English and half Spanish. However, please read to your child at home in English or Spanish daily, and accept any attempt to read in another language on their part.

Is any English used in the Dual Language classroom?

Both languages are used everyday in separate "Spanish Time" and "English Time" according to the program design. However, student expression is accepted in whichever language the student uses.

How can I communicate with my child's teacher if she/he does not speak in English in front of the student?

In grades K-3, students see their teachers use only the language they model, so parents are encouraged to write notes or send e-mails.

Can parents volunteer in the classroom if they do not speak the language being used?

Absolutely! Parent involvement is foundational to student success in this program, and the more a parent experiences the learning environment, the more he/she will know how to support their children's learning. Communication with parents is conducted in the language they understand.

How can parents support their child in the program?

Participate! Keep up the high quality English and/or Spanish at home. Read with your child in English and/or Spanish daily. Discuss what your child is learning. Listen to him/her read. Try to learn along with your child. Attend Dual Immersion meetings at Foothill. Take a basic Spanish or English course and learn with your child. Spanish and ESL courses are available at the Pittsburg Adult School.

When will my child become fluent in both languages?

Each child is developmentally unique, so the fluency will also develop individually. You will be informed on a regular basis of your child's oral fluency progress. You will also be informed regularly of your child's academic progress. Keeping the communication line between you and your child's teacher is the best resource to find out how well your child is doing.

What are the student outcomes in English?

Students in the Dual Language immersion program have the same standards and expectations as all students in the Pittsburg Unified School District. Oral and academic proficiency in English and Spanish are based on the California English Language Arts Standards and the English Language Development Standards.

Where are there effective programs that I can observe?

California has several established Dual Language immersion programs. Call before visiting or contact Ricardo Araiza or Blanca Feliciano at (925) 473-2450 to join a visit with Foothill Elementary School.
River Glen Elementary (San Jose) (408) 535-6240
Pacheco Elementary (San Luis Obispo) (850) 596-4081
Fiesta Gardens (San Mateo) (650) 312-7737
Nestor Elementary (South Bay Union School District) (619) 575-5952
Las Palmas Elementary (Saddleback Valley School District) (949) 837-2260
Discovery Elementary (San Marcos Unified Schools) (760) 471-8533
Valley Center School District   (760) 749-1631

Where can I get more information on Dual Immersion Programs?

Please contact Sandra Guardado, Coordinator, English Learner and Dual Language Instruction Programs at (925) 473-2353.
Center for Language Minority Education and Research

Helpful Books and Additional Resources:

Dual language Instruction - A Handbook for Enriched Education: by Nancy Cloud, Fred Genesee, Else Hamayan. Heinle & Heinle. ISBN number = 083848801-3
A parent's and Teachers Guide to Bilingualism by Colin Baker, Multilingual Matters LTD.
Profiles in Two-Way Immersion Education by Donna Christian, Chris Monstone, Kathryn Lindholm, and Isolda Carranza. Delta Systems, Inc. and Eric Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics.
The Power of Two Languages 2000: Effective Dual Languages Use Across the Curriculum by Josefina Tinajero and Robert DeVillar (eds.) McGraw Hill.
Dual Language Education by Kathryn Lindholm-Leary, (in Press) Avon, England: Multilingual Matters.
Biliteracy for a Global Society: An Idea Book on Dual Language Education by Kathryn Lindholm. National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education.
If Your Child Learns in Two Languages by Nancy Zelasco and Beth Antunez. National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education.