LO­CAL OPIN­IONS

Oui to lan­guage im­mer­sion pro­grams

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

As a par­ent of some­one who got her aca­demic start in the won­der­ful French im­mer­sion pro­gram in Prince Ge­orge’s County Pub­lic Schools, I was sad­dened to read in the July 4 Metro ar­ti­cle “Lan­guage tracks in schools stir anx­i­eties” about the racial di­vide in the Dis­trict around dual-lan­guage/lan­guage im­mer­sion pro­grams. Prince Ge­orge’s County has long had lan­guage im­mer­sion pro­grams. Par­tic­i­pa­tion is di­verse. Many of the strong­est ad­vo­cates for ex­pand­ing lan­guage im­mer­sion pro­grams have been African Amer­i­can par­ents, per­haps be­cause stu­dents in the early French im­mer­sion pro­grams out­per­formed those in most other county schools and con­tinue to do so; these schools have a proven track record of ex­cel­lence in Prince Ge­orge’s County.

Ac­qui­si­tion of a sec­ond lan­guage is not the only ben­e­fit of such pro­grams. Stu­dents in Prince Ge­orge’s County’s French im­mer­sion pro­grams out­per­form their peers in sci­ence, math and English lan­guage arts. Be­cause of the demon­strated aca­demic suc­cess of stu­dents in the pro­gram, along with par­ent and stu­dent ad­vo­cacy, Prince Ge­orge’s County has ex­panded the French im­mer­sion pro­gram and added Span­ish im­mer­sion, dual-lan­guage pro­grams and a Chi­nese pro­gram. Per­haps the D.C. school sys­tem can reach out to its neigh­bor to bet­ter un­der­stand the ad­van­tages and prom­ise of sec­ond-lan­guage pro­grams.

As one par­ent in the ar­ti­cle said, these pro­grams are not for ev­ery­one, but this dia­logue should be about pro­vid­ing bet­ter and more ed­u­ca­tional op­tions (and maybe a greater va­ri­ety of lan­guage op­tions). It should fo­cus on in­creas­ing aca­demic per­for­mance and open­ing fu­ture doors for our chil­dren.

Diane Wray-Ca­hen,

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