According to Hechinger Report, an online journal that boasts “in-depth journalism that uses research, data and stories from classrooms and campuses to show the public how education can be improved and why it matters,” supporting the inclusion of home languages within a Pre-K classroom can provide a “lifelong advantage.” However, despite data by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) which shows that roughly 25% of U.S. students are English Language Learners (ELLs), many ELLs are expected to learn English without having first developed fluency in their home language. In this respect, dual language programs are key in fostering and supporting multilingualism.
A research study at Stanford University suggests that while students in English-only classes perform better initially, in the long-term “their achievement matches or exceeds students in traditional classes when they are in classrooms taught in two languages.” To supplement this data, the U.S Department of Education has shown that ELLs perform better in dual language courses. As a dual language program, TWIN-CS acknowledges not only the importance of academic learning, especially in terms of cognitive development, but we also prioritize teaching the whole child. That is, we wish to include heritage values, cultures, and histories in addition to the heritage language in our classrooms. In this way, we not only construct an academic environment for ELLs to thrive, but we welcome perspectives that would otherwise be ignored in other academic settings.
As advocates for dual language programs, TWIN-CS can speak to the cognitive, emotional, and social developments found in multilingual education and within our own classrooms. We are delighted to discover that many researchers similarly support our mission to teach the whole child.
-Melissa Hoppie, Graduate Student Researcher