There seem to be three challenges in schools with two-way and English-only strands. One of the biggest challenges that we discussed was the divide that exists between the teachers of the two-way strand and the teachers of the English-only program. Another was uniting the family communities through school-wide events like International day and movie nights. And the last was creating time for the two strands of children to spend time together and appreciate the multi-language aspects of the school.
A way we discussed to bridge the gap between the children and families is to incorporate one hour per week of the Language Achieve program as a way to provide multiple languages to the entire school. Much like art, music, and technology pull-out programs offered, your school can incorporate another language into the monolingual classrooms. By bringing a second language to your English only classrooms, you provide recognition and validity to bilingualism across the entire school. Although we don't expect children to become fluent or fully bilingual from an hour a week of language immersion, we know that an hour is enough language to allow the brain to create additional synapses that support children's primary language and executive functioning skills. Another benefit is helping minority children with ethnic identity development. Yet another exciting bridge is the weekly email sent to families with the rich academic vocabulary the children learned that they can practice at home and on the playground.
As a special thank you to ATDLE and because we had such a wonderful time at the conference in Sacramento, mention ATDLE when you contact us before Aug. 1 and receive a 10% discount!