Have We Learned Our Language Lesson? In Spite of Massachusetts’ Decade-Old English-Only Law, Two-Way Bilingual Programs Demonstrate Promise and Enjoy Enduring Popularity
“We put the language majority kids in the position where they have to learn something from the Spanish speaking kids. And having students integrated together and being able to see and negotiate that…is at the basis of how you build a socially connected or interconnected group of students, and school community and society.” – Deborah Sercombe, principal, the Amigos School in Cambridge, Massachusetts
A decade ago, Massachusetts implemented a contentious English-only law that effectively banned bilingual education in its public schools. Largely overlooked in the political battle, though, was that this law did not apply to the several “two-way” bilingual/dual immersion schools that bring children from distinct linguistic backgrounds together to learn in two languages. Ten years later, these culturally and linguistically integrated dual immersion schools provide a hopeful contrast to a largely disappointing “English-only” mandate. Dual immersion schools enjoy wide popularity, academic success and provide a promising educational model in an increasingly diverse state and nation.
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