Dual language schools are becoming popular as a great way for children in multicultural communities to find pathways for greater success. And being able to communicate in more than one language speaks to many parents in the Sacramento region.
Sacramento’s multicultural communities see the opportunities for nurturingbilingual education in elementary schools throughout the Sacramento City Unified School District.
According to the Sacramento Area Council of Government, 22.8% of Sacramento’s population identifies as Hispanic or Latino, and 14.5% identifies as Asian.
Giving children the tools to become bilingual members of society equips students to become more competitive candidates in their collegiate and work careers.
Dr. Olga L. Simms, Multilingual Literacy Directory at the Sacramento City Unified School District said, “the goal is that at the end of these programs students are bilingual, bi-literate and bi-cultural.”
How are dual language classes taught?
SCUSD offers dual language instruction at seven schools, with languages in Mandarin, Hmong and Spanish.
According to Simms, the program is taught in a way that a student who starts the program in kindergarten learns 90% of their material in the “target language” of either Mandarin, Hmong or Spanish. The other 10% of the target material is taught in English.
As the day progresses, the target language instruction decreases and the English language 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 any of seven dual language programs. Under the No Child Left Behind law, “public school choice” equips parents with the option to “allow them to transfer their children into schools with track records of success and safety.”
According to Simms, the multilingual literacy department looks at the number of requests submitted for the language programs then determines what next steps to take based on the need. The district either decides to add another class or start a new program.
Why dual language learning is important
Students who start dual language learning at a young age get a head start in high school college prep courses. Additionally, California honors high school graduates with a seal of bi-literacy on their diploma.
This type of recognition helps students be more competitive in school and employment. And more.
“When we honor and we support our students in being bilingual you’re not only preparing them for a global education,” said Simms. “You’re also promoting inclusivity, respect, cultural awareness, cultural understanding of other races and other languages.”
Schools in Sacramento offering dual language classes
Mandarin dual language programs
- Elder Creek Elementary
- William Land Elementary
Hmong dual language programs
- Susan B. Anthony Elementary
Spanish dual language programs
- Edward Kemble Elementary
- Cesar Chavez Elementary
- Ethel Phillips Elementary
- Bowling Green Charter – Chacon Language and Science Academy