District 203’s Dual Language and English Learners

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High performing dual language and English learning students were at the focus of the most recent District 203 Board of Education meeting.

The district’s director of language acquisition presented an update on the programs, which have shown great benefits for young learners.

“The research tells us that children can learn to speak, read, and write in two languages at the same time. What we know now is that emerging bilingual children often use strategies from one language and apply them to the other language to help them read, understand or spell words they do not know,” explained Dr. Marion Friebus-Flaman, the director of language acquisition.

It’s clear that students in both dual language and English learning programs saw growth in achievement. English learners for example saw in the 2016-2017 school year 63 percent of students were above average in math, compared to 2015-2016 when 42 percent of students were above average.

That distinct growth got board members excited who have seen the impact of the programs first hand.

“To see the kids from kindergarten through fifth grade operating, and especially by the time I got to Jefferson, they’re just able to toggle between two languages what seems effortlessly,” commented Board Member Kristine Gericke. “And then for me I just felt like the kids that have that opportunity are going to be that much more prepared beyond their time with us.”

The district aims to increase the amount of higher-level text resources in fourth through eighth grades and to continue the collaboration between English learning program teachers with general education teachers and specialists.

Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.