Polo Road Elementary is home to a Spanish-English Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program as part of Richland Two’s magnet offerings. The program began in 2015 and will reach full K-5 implementation in the 2020-21 school year.
What is immersion?
Dual language immersion (DLI) programs are rigorous academic programs which lead to bilingualism, biliteracy, and the cultural competency needed to succeed in our global society. Two highly-qualified classroom teachers provide instruction in two languages. Students in a DLI program follow same SC College and Career Readiness standards-based curriculum in all content areas that non DLI students follow at Polo Road.
Polo Road's DLI program is also known as a Two-Way (TWI) Immersion Program. According to the Center for Applied Linguistics, TWI programs are “a distinctive form of dual language education in which balanced numbers of native English speakers and native speakers of the partner language are integrated for instruction so that both groups of students serve in the role of language model and language learner at different times.” (2018).
Inline with this definition, our Polo Road serves native English speakers and native speakers of Spanish. Our students who are native English-speakers and native Spanish-speakers learn together to speak, listen, read and write in English and Spanish.
What is taught in each language?
The instructional day is split to allow students 150 minutes with their Spanish language teacher and another 150 minutes with their English teacher. The Spanish language teacher is responsible for teaching math, science, and Spanish Language Arts. The English language teacher is responsible for teaching English Language Arts and Social Studies. Both teachers reinforce the other’s content through collaborative planning. At all grade levels electives such as art, music, and PE are in English.
Why Dual Language Immersion?
While DLI is a newer instructional model in Richland Two, it has been widely implemented across the country and abroad for more than forty years. Research has consistently shown that language immersion education helps native English speaking students attain high levels of proficiency in a second language. At Polo, we are also interested in meeting the needs of our native Spanish speaking students, who come to us as Emerging Bilinguals. According to Thomas and Collier (2009), historically underserved students, attain greater academic success when they participate in a DLI program.
We also aim to provide the added cognitive, academic and employment benefits being bilingual brings to our students. Research shows people who are bilingual demonstrate greater cognitive flexibility, increased attention control, better memory, and superior problem solving skills as well as enhanced understanding of their primary language. (Lindholm-Leary 2001). Even though DLI students spend half their academic day or more English they tend to outperform their non-immersion peers on academic achievement tests in English (Turnbull, Hart & Lapkin 2000). In the 21st century being able to conduct business or professional discussions in more than one language is essential. Many local and global employers need a multilingual workforce to remain competitive.
DLI also offers our native Spanish speaking students, whose heritage is the partner language and culture, the opportunity to develop a positive linguistic and cultural identity that allows them to better connect with their parents, relatives and community.
What are the program goals?
How will students be chosen to participate in DLI?
Students are selected to participate through Richland Two’s Choiceselection process. The application process is completed on-line, beginning in January.
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