Education Opinion

New York Expands Dual-Language Programs

By Matthew Lynch — January 20, 2015 1 min read
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The New York City Education Department plans to expand dual-language programs offered in the city’s public schools.

The plan was announced last week by New York City’s school chancellor, Carmen Farina. She stated that 40 dual-language programs in elementary, middle and high school levels plan to be created or expanded for the 2015-2016 school year. As of June, there were 150 dual-language programs in the city.

The programs will be primarily in Spanish, but there will also be some in French, Haitian-Creole, Japanese, Chinese and Hebrew. The programs will aspire to teach students to read, write and speak in two languages. Half of the students will be English speakers and half will already speak the other language in the classroom.

Dual-language programs have been spreading around the United States as school districts strive to prepare students to compete for jobs in a globalized, multi-language speaking world. The methods used in each school vary. For example, some teachers may teach half of the school day in English and half in another language.

Beyond the job prospects and global advantages, education experts say that dual-language programs can also attract middle-class families to attend poorer schools they may otherwise evade.

The city’s new dual-language program will receive a $25,000 grant to prepare for the implementation and $1 million in federal funds.

I think New York City is using its multi-cultural community to its advantage. Dual-language programs promote a positive school culture and can help close the achievement gap. As the city hopes, I anticipate we will see students from a range of backgrounds attend schools that offer dual-language programs as more and more parents recognize the importance of bilingual education.

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