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DLP Program Model

Language Allocation

What are the benefits of DLP?

Students will have the benefit of learning a 2nd language while enriching their native language.  All children will learn appropriate grade level content while developing their bilingual proficiency.

How much French/Spanish instruction will there be a day?

We currently follow the 50/50 model of instruction, where children receive 50% of instruction in English, and 50% of instruction in either French or Spanish. In Kindergarten we offer two models:  In the self-contained model, one teacher teaches the class in both languages.  Approximately 50% of the students are Francophones or Spanish native speakers and approximately 50% are English-dominant.  The teacher teaches “whole class” in either French or Spanish in the mornings and in English in the afternoon.  In the side-by-side model, there are two teachers.  Students spend one day in the “English” class, and one day in the “French” or “Spanish” class.  During the reading and writing workshops, the teacher may pull aside a small group of students or individual students to work with them in the language they are reading and writing in.  Math is taught in English.  Social Studies and Science is integrated in the literacy block through read alouds, songs and arts & crafts activities in the classroom as well as through field trips and multicultural presentations outside of the classroom.  Science, Gym, Music and Art are taught by specialty teachers in English.  Students meet with specialty teachers six times a week.

Instruction to the whole class by the French/Spanish dual language teacher includes at least 100 minutes in French/Spanish every day in Kindergarten. However, during reading and writing workshops in Kindergarten, instruction with small groups and individual students is done in English for Anglophone students and in French/Spanish for Francophone/Spanish speaking students.  Thus, in reality, Anglophone students receive 70 to 85 minutes of instructional time in French/Spanish a day in Kindergarten; whilst, Francophone/Spanish speaking students receive 120-140 minutes of instructional time in French.

Science, Gym, Music and Art are taught by specialty teachers in English.  Students meet with specialty teachers six times a week.

What are the goals of the program?

The overall goal of our DLP program is for all students to be bilingual, bi-literate, and bi-cultural.  By the end of 5th grade, students will be able to:

  • Use 2 languages comfortably and effectively in social situations appropriate for their age level
  • Communicate effectively through reading and writing in 2 languages at a level appropriate for their age
  • Perform at or above grade level standard
The Six Stages of Second-Language Acquisition
Early production The individual begins to speak using short words and sentences, but the emphasis is still on listening and absorbing the new language. There will be many errors in the early production stage.
Speech Emergent Speech becomes more frequent, words and sentences are longer, but the individual still relies heavily on context clues and familiar topics. Vocabulary continues to increase and errors begin to decrease, especially in common or repeated interactions.
Beginning Fluency Speech is fairly fluent in social situations with minimal errors. New contexts and academic language are challenging and the individual will struggle to express themselves due to gaps in vocabulary and appropriate phrases.
Intermediate Fluency Communicating in the second language is fluent, especially in social language situations. The individual is able to speak almost fluently in new situations or in academic areas, but there will be gaps in vocabulary knowledge and some unknown expressions. There are very few errors, and the individual is able to demonstrate higher order thinking skills in the second language such as offering an opinion or analyzing a problem.
Advanced Fluency The individual communicates fluently in all contexts and can maneuver successfully in new contexts and when exposed to new academic information. At this stage, the individual may still have an accent and use idiomatic expressions incorrectly at times, but the individual is essentially fluent and comfortable communicating in the second language

Language Acquisition and Development

How long does it take for students to develop proficiency in the other language?

Students first acquire and produce social language (greetings, basic sentences and vocabulary) and later academic language (higher tier vocabulary and more complex sentence structures).  Research shows (Cummins, 1981) that it takes two to three years to develop social language and at least five to seven years to develop academic language.  Some factors influencing the development of a second language include exposure to the language outside of school, quality of teaching, parent involvement, personal motivation, emotional response and social factors.

Learning a second language starting in Kindergarten requires time.  An Anglophone student who does not speak French outside of school will take between 6-12 months to utter his/her first word in French.  Parents need to be armed with patience and understanding of the challenge this poses for their child.  Most Anglophone children will start producing complete simple sentences in French after 2-3 full years in the program.  They will read fluently in French at one or two grade levels below after 5-6 full years in the program.

When do students learn to read in French/Spanish and when do they learn to read in English?

Students, who are accepted as Francophones/ Spanish speakers, read and write in French/Spanish for two years before reading and writing in English.  Students, who are accepted as Anglophones, read and write in English for two years before reading and writing in French.  Both groups are exposed to print in the other language, but they are asked to master only one within the first two years of schooling.  This is called a sequential biliteracy approach.

A sequential biliteracy approach means to teach to read and write in one language first and then in the second language.  It is different from a simultaneous biliteracy approach, which means that children learn to read in both languages at the same time.

Research shows that children learn best by reading and writing in their first language first and then transferring reading and writing skills to the second language. Study after study has demonstrated that there is a strong and positive correlation between literacy in the first language and learning a second language (New York State Education Department, 2000; Clay, 1993) and that the degree of children’s first language proficiency is a strong predictor of their second language development (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998). Literacy in a child’s first language establishes a knowledge, concept and skills base that transfers from first language reading to reading in a second language (Collier & Thomas, 1992; Cummins, 1989; Escamilla, 1987; Rodríguez, 1988).

Transitioning to Biliteracy

Most students will transition to biliteracy (reading and writing in both languages) in first or second grades.  Teachers examine three readiness indicators before having a student read and write in his/her second language.

  1. Oral language development in the second language
    Is the student able to create simple sentences in the other language?  The student should be able to formulate his/her own sentences, and speak with some spontaneity.  Speaking in formulaic sentences that have been taught is not a reliable indicator.  The ability to create his/her own sentences shows a growing lexicon and sense of syntax in the second language.  More importantly, it shows metalinguistic awareness and an understanding that language is malleable: you can change and write things in many different ways.
  2. Literacy in the first language
    Is the student approaching the early fluent reading stage in his/her native tongue?  At this stage, students are focusing more on comprehension and less on decoding skills.  Typically, students reach the early fluency stage, when they are reading independently at levels H or I according to the Fountas and Pinnell leveling system.
  3. Knowledge of phonics in the second language
    Does the student have a good mastery of the phonetic system in the second language?  Students should know the names and more importantly sounds of all letters.  In addition, they should know the sounds of complex vowel and consonant combinations in the second language.  There should be little to no confusion between the native and second language phonetic system.  Students are assessed on their mastery of the phonetic system in the L2 halfway through first grade and at the end of first grade.

When do students start reading in their second language?

When students reach a very advanced reading level in their first language as well as demonstrate basic listening and speaking proficiency in the second language (i.e. early chapter books), teachers will begin teaching them to read in the other language.

How will my child differentiate between both languages and will s/he experience difficulty reading?

Parents often express concern about their child becoming confused.  Research has shown that children can differentiate languages at a very early age.  When spoken to in one language, they usually answer back in that language unless they do not have sufficient vocabulary to express themselves.  Teachers will use well-defined times of the day to assist students in making that differentiation, and will use different colored papers and pens for instruction in English and French.

Children, like adults, experience both positive and negative transfer across languages. When reading two Indo-European languages such as English and French, children can transfer many of the phonetic sounds to the other languages (positive transfer).  For example, the consonant sounds /p/, /b/, and /m/ are the same in French, English, and Spanish.  However, students can also experience some negative transfer.  When reading, children can assume that the vowel e has the same sounds in English as it does in French or Spanish.  Yet, they are very different.  While children may experience both negative and positive transfer, good bilingual teachers will help them compare and contrast the languages so they can build off of their stronger language and avoid mistakes in the other language.

What would a “typical” day look like?

A typical day begins with a Morning Meeting where students practice skills that are grade level appropriate.  After Morning Meeting, students typical begin their literacy activities either through reading or writing.  This continues throughout most of the morning and will include diverse topics from Social Studies, Science, and other content areas.  In kindergarten, a light snack is provided in the morning.  All instruction until lunchtime takes place in French or Spanish.  A combined lunch/recess is provided in the middle of the day for 50 minutes. In the afternoons, English instruction in math and other content areas is provided.  For 1 period of the day (50 minutes) children will receive instruction in English from a specialty teacher for Physical Education, Technology, Music, or Science.

The above describes instruction targeting the class as a whole.  Literacy instruction is also provided in small groups in their native language regardless of the time of day.  Individual conversations between student and teacher (conferences) will take place in the student’s native language.

Phonics is provided daily in both languages.  In French, Bien lire et aimer lire is used.  In Spanish, Estrellita is used.  Children, like adults, experience both positive and negative transfer across languages.

What does homework look like?

A child’s homework load in the dual language program will be at least twice as much as that of students in the regular Kindergarten.  Homework will include studying letter names/sounds (at the beginning of the year), more advanced sight words and independent reading.  In addition, occasionally, students will bring home math activities to complete with the help of parents.  There will be assignments that the student can do independently.  However, many assignments will require family participation.  For example, reading together or playing math games to build number sense.  There will also be a number of family projects around the social studies themes.

What does assessment look like?

Additional assessments in the other content areas are also done periodically throughout the year.  This includes both performance based assessments as well as teacher observations.

Formal assessment in the child’s non-native language will not begin until 2nd grade.

  • In later grades, the workload will continue to increase.  Parents need to be ready to commit time and effort to supporting their child’s learning of the second language at home.  To help their child learn French or Spanish, Anglophone/non-native (English speaking) parents can schedule play-dates with Francophone or native Spanish speaking children, listen to audio books, attend after school cultural and linguistic activities, listen to French/Spanish music, watch French/Spanish cartoons and movies, etc.
  • Once a part of the DLP program, students are assessed several times a year in French for the Francophone students, Spanish for the native Spanish speaking students, and in English for the Anglophone and non-native Spanish (English) students.  During the year, students are assessed on letter name and sound recognition, sight words and reading levels in their first language.  At the end of the year, all students are assessed in the other language for letter name and sound recognition.

Parental Involvement

What are the parent requirements/expectations?

  • Parent involvement is an Integral part of our Dual Language Programs.  It is a huge commitment from the parents and the students.  As stated above, parents must play an active role in developing their child’s bi-literacy and bi-culturalism.
  • Parents are encouraged to volunteer in the classroom and to work with their children on language skills at home.