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Lopez

David Lopez
7-29-15
Eths-2430
Dual Immersion
Dual Immersion programs first started in Canada in the 1960s and later were established
in the United States. The program is made up of two languages, the majority language and the
minority language; either subjects or days are divided up into either being taught in the minority
language or being taught in the majority language. The goals for dual immersion programs are
for students to reach high levels of academic proficiency, bilingualism, and self-esteem, it also
helps promote cross cultural attitudes and cultural sensitivity (Potowski).
In Utah alone there are 118 dual immersion schools that teach languages that range from
Chinese to Spanish, however those school are not located in pockets of high populations of
Mexican Americans (USOE). In order for programs like this to succeed they must be
strategically placed in districts with a high population of Mexican Americans in order to lessen
the struggle of having to find their identity by being forced to assimilate in only English classes.
With programs like dual immersion Mexican American students would learn their heritage
language as well and know how to engage in dominate culture with out having to lose sight of
their culture.
For example Rose Park Elementary, which is located in Salt Lake City in the
neighborhood of Rose Park, has a student population of Latino students that is roughly 70
percent. However only has a language arts proficiency of 17.9 percent among its Latino students;
Rose Park Elementary is not a dual immersion school (USOE). This means that only 17.9 percent
of the 70 percent are considered to be passing when it comes to English writing and reading

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classes. Less than 10 miles away at Mountain View Elementary, which has a population of 57.2
percent Latino students and is a dual immersion school, has a language arts proficiency of 29.3
percent, which is a significant increase from Rose Park Elementary. Emerson Elementary which
is located less than mile away from both Rose Park Elementary and Mountain View Elementary,
also a dual immersion school. Moutain View Elementary has a Latino population of students that
is roughly 27.4 percent has language arts proficiency among Latino students of 43.1 percent,
double that of Rose Park Elementary and Mountain View Elementary (USOE 2014) (USOE
2012).
Joel Lopez a fourth grade teacher at heritage elementary in Nibley, Utah says that dual
immersion programs could increase High School graduation rates because dual immersion helps
with students self esteem by creating cultural sensitivity. In essence students will learn better if
they are comfortable and accepted in the classroom, leading to higher test scores and higher
literacy proficiency because they are able to make better connections to words due to
bilingualism (Lopez).
The positive outcomes that cant be measured by statistics for dual immersion programs
are that Mexican American students will be discovering identity sooner than those that did not go
through a dual immersion program. Discovering their identity and learning how to engage in
dominate culture is important because it will add to your socio-economical standing in life.
Mexican American students in dual immersion programs will be able to navigate life in dominate
culture more confidently and will be happier and more successful in the long run.
In 2008 Utah passed a bill that would create funding for dual immersion programs
(Senate Bill 41) however the way this program is being used is not the best model. It is in school
districts that are predominately white with little to no Mexican American Students (Stephenson).

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Programs need to be in those areas with a high population of Mexican American students in
order to use dual immersion to its fullest capabilities. The census could be used to determine
where the areas are that are predominantly Spanish speaking. With these areas are determined
those elementary schools can be made into dual immersion schools. The school board would
have to go into these communities and together with the parents can help each other create a
positive learning experience for the students in that area giving these communities a more
tailored learning experience for their children.
Areas of resistance would be parents afraid that it would not be fair to English only
students, parents who do not see the benefits of there children being culturally sensitive and
bilingual. Other areas of resistance would be parents of Mexican American students, because
there is a wide gap in education between parents, which can range from barely knowing how to
read and write or being highly educated. Parents who have less education could be resistant
because they would be less involved; feeling shameful of their own level of education and not
wanting to be embarrassed about their own level of education. The State could be resistant by
withholding funding for these types of schools until further studies can be done to determine
whether these types of schools are beneficial or not, because there is limited studies on dual
immersion this could be a hindrance for funding and continuation of these programs.
Funding for duel immersion is currently on a grant basis, so that means that school with
good test scores are awarded grants to fund dual immersion (McInnis). Right now there are only
118 school that duel immersion but those school are mainly in white school districts not
benefitting any Mexican Americans. The way that duel immersion should be implemented is to
put programs like this into pockets of high Latino populations and funding should come from the
education fund of the State of Utah. Utah cut a large amount of money from their educational

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funding just last year which only hurts these type of communities with Mexican American
families. Education needs to be one of Utahs top priorities and with the dual immersion program
Utah could become one of the top States with a higher graduation and student success rates
among Mexican Americans.
Teachers like Joel Lopez are important to duel immersion programs because he himself as
a Mexican American has experienced what it is like to struggle to find a racial identity and the
struggle of what its like to have to straddle two cultures and knowing how to navigate between
those two cultures. Teacher like Mr. Lopez offer an interesting perspective into these struggles
that are unique to hyphenated Americans.
Dual immersion used in the right way would be very beneficial to all students, but to
students of Mexican decent in a Spanish dual immersion school the benefits would be huge in
terms of helping students find their racial identity faster and be comfortable with who they are.
Going through life trying to find a racial identity is hard enough and constant battle. If public
education can be a catalyst for this by creating these models of school in areas with high
populations of Mexican Americans then students would be able to learn their heritage language
as well as learn English and make better connection to language because of bilingualism. In
order for this to happen parents must be involved every step of the way because after all it is
their children that will be contributing to their communities in the future.

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Works Cited
Lopez, Joel. "Duel Immersion." Personal interview. 18 July 2015.

McInnis, Kirin. "Education Funding." Telephone interview. 31 July 2015.

U.S. Department of Education (2012). "Emerson School, Mountain View


Elementary, Rose Park Elementary." Start Class. Start Class, 2012. Web. 15 July 2015.

Utah State Office of Education (USOE). "SAGE Results - USOE Data Gateway."
SAGE Results - USOE Data Gateway. Utah State Office of Education, 2014. Web. 15
July 2015.

Potowski, Kim. "Student Spanish Use And Investment In A Dual Immersion Classroom:
Implications For Second Language Acquisition And Heritage Language Maintenance." Modern
Language Journal 88.1 (2004): 75-101. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 29 July
2015.

Stephenson, Howard A. "Utah State Legislature." Utah Legislature SB0041. Utah State
Legislature, 2008. Web. 15 July 2015

Umansky, I., & Reardon, S. (2014). Reclassification Patterns Among Latino English
Learner Students in Bilingual, Dual Immersion, and English Immersion Classrooms. American
Educational Research Journal, 879-912.

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