Utah's dual language immersion programs for school kids

10/09/2017 - SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) Did you know there are programs at many Utah public schools that teach students in two languages at the same time? The students in the program will be able to graduate from high school fluent in both. We're talking to Cassie Kapes who helps oversee the dual language immersion programs in the Canyons School District on Good Morning Utah.

Children who are in Dual Language Immersion Programs spend half the day learning core subjects in English and the other half learning in a target languages such as Spanish, French or Mandarin Chinese. It's based on a model of bilingual instruction dating back to the 1960s, and immersion programs are being established in classrooms around the globe as an efficient path to proficiency in a world language. In our district, we started offering the classes in 2009, the same year Canyons District was founded. Our district now has 17 elementary and secondary-school immersion programs. 
A major difference is that kids in dual language immersion programs spend at least half of their class time learning in a foreign language. Half of the day, they are in a class where the teacher speaks absolutely no English - only Spanish or French or Mandarin Chinese.  In some cases, the students don't even know their teacher can speak English.  The aim here is to create an environment where they are immersed in the language they are studying.

If your family takes a vacation to Mexico and one of your children is in the Spanish-English Dual Language Immersion program, they should be able to order dinner, ask for directions, and speak with the people in the stores. But we're aiming for more much than that. We want our students to leave the program ready for college and careers. Yes, we want them to be able to converse on vacation, but we also want them to be able to compete in a global marketplace. We want them to use their language skills in their professions. For example, if they become nurses, then we hope they could be a nurse who could speak Spanish to patients. Or work as an engineer who speaks to clients on international calls. 
Yes, in Utah they can. Nearly 10 percent of all elementary students are learning a world language through the program, which extends through high school where, if they've passed an Advanced Placement exam, students can start taking college-level courses for early college credit.
School districts have application processes.  If you live in the Canyons District, you can apply now through Nov. 22.  The students start in the program in the first grade then advance through the grade levels. 
Parent Information Nights in Canyons District
Secondary Students
Monday, Oct. 30
6-8 p.m.
Canyons Administration Building, 9361 S. 300 East
Elementary Students
Wednesday, Nov. 1
6-8 p.m.
Canyons Administration Building, 9361 S. 300 East.

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