Schools Receive Grant to Expand Dual Language

San Bernardino City Schools Receive Grant to Expand Dual Language Program
Posted on 10/11/2022
A Belvedere Elementary student in SBCUSD's Dual Immersion program studies Spanish. (Photo is pre-COVID)

A $380,000 state grant will help the San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD) expand its popular Dual Language Immersion Program, already one of the oldest and strongest in California, resulting in more students having access to bilingual education.

“The California Department of Education Dual Language Immersion Grant (DLIG) is a significant boost to SBCUSD’s efforts to grow the program, which serves about 3,164 SBCUSD students in Dual Language Programs, and 824 in Transitional Bilingual Programs, from kindergarten through 12th grade,” said Les Ojeda, the District’s Elementary Director of Multilingual Programs, the department overseeing implementation of the grant.

“There’s a lot of excitement among our families and the entire community,” Ojeda said. “The funding allows us to really focus on expanding and improving our Dual Language Program.”

The purpose of the DLIG is to expand dual language immersion (DLI) programs that provide integrated language learning and academic instruction for English speakers and native speakers of another language. The goals of the program include high academic achievement, first- and second-language proficiency, and cross-cultural understanding.

The SBCUSD plan revolves around high-quality professional development (PD) for teachers and comprehensive student and parent engagement.

The District’s Dual Language Immersion Program is offered at 25 schools and promotes bilingualism and biliteracy in English and Spanish for native Spanish speakers and native English speakers. Students receive academic instruction in English and Spanish based on the 90:10 model, meaning that 90 percent of the instruction is in one language and 10 percent in the other language with the percentage shifting each year until instruction is 50:50. The idea is that all students will be exposed to their native language and a second language in an academic setting. SBCUSD is also one of the few districts that offers a trilingual program in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Rodolfina “Rommy” Gamino, the mother of a Dual Language Immersion senior at San Bernardino High School and president of the District English Learner Advisory Committee (DELAC), credits SBCUSD’s Board of Education for having the foresight to pursue state funding aggressively for the benefit of local students.

“I am proud that this school district wants all students to speak at least two languages fluently,” said Gamino, who added that parents also deserve credit for asking the District to expand Dual Immersion. “We want families and students in our community to feel proud that they speak two languages. That’s why more schools should offer the dual program.”

“SBCUSD makes dual language instruction a priority because research shows that students benefit academically and socially,” said Dr. Barbara Flores, member of the SBCUSD Board of Education and President of the California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE). Flores is in her second year of a four-year term as President of CABE and is regarded statewide as an authority in Bilingual Education. In fact, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond appointed Flores as one of six co-chairs of California’s Literacy and Biliteracy Initiative.

“Dual Language immersion is essential to ensure that our students reach their fullest potential,” said Dr. Flores, who retired after 32 years as a Literacy and Biliteracy professor at Cal State San Bernardino. Dr. Flores taught many of the teachers who now work in the District and also many in the Inland Empire. “All the research and anecdotal evidence shows that students who graduate from Dual Language Programs academically outperform many other students and also develop cross-cultural understanding, appreciation and respect for multiple perspectives.”

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