Dual-language immersion seen as 'win-win-win' for Catholic education
Published: January 20, 2012
SEATTLE (CNS) -- Teaching half the school day in English and half in Spanish could be a boon for Catholic education in the United States, according to a Hispanic educator. Luis Ricardo Fraga, a professor of political science at the University of Washington and director of its Diversity Research Institute, said such a program, called "two-way immersion," could provide a superior education, increase educational opportunities for Hispanic Catholics, increase enrollment and prevent school closures. Starting two-way immersion programs in Catholic schools would be a "win-win-win," Fraga said. "The hope is that Latino families will be attracted to this, that English-dominant families who want their children to learn two languages and cultures and Catholic values will be attracted to this, that this can lead to greater enrollments in schools with low enrollments, and that it provides a superior educational opportunity for these children, all at the same time." The first goal of implementing a two-way immersion program would be "to provide a proven, superior educational opportunity for families who are committed to give their children a Catholic education where two languages and two cultures are united by a common commitment to the Gospel and to our faith," said Fraga. "The model builds upon two-way immersion programs that have been used in the United States and in a few Catholic schools across the country for over 20 years." In a school with a two-way immersion program, children learn subjects in both English and Spanish from bilingual teachers, beginning in kindergarten. Half the students are drawn from households where Spanish is the primary language, and half from English-dominant homes. In such a program, Fraga said, students are fully bilingual and biliterate by fourth grade. And there's no trade-off in terms of academic achievement, he said.
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