- New York City has approved or expanded 39 new dual language programs this fall as part of a move to use the instruction to help English language learners.
- The city now offers 180 dual language programs in total, including additional languages like Arabic, Korean, Spanish, Hebrew, and Chinese.
- The programs can help English language learners succeed academically, with new research suggesting dual language instruction can help language learners perform better than their peers down the road.
New York’s expansion is dramatic, but the city isn't alone. In Portland, OR, one in 10 students is enrolled in a dual language program. In Utah, the New York Times reports that 9% of elementary school students are in dual language programs. Several states, including Delaware and North Carolina, are working on expanding access to dual language programs. Often, the intent is not just to expand access for English language learners, but for native speakers as well.
“I want students from Delaware to be able to go anywhere and do any kind of work they want to do, and I also want to attract businesses from around the world, to say, ‘You want to be in Delaware because, amongst other things, we’ve got a bilingual work force,’” Delaware Gov. Jack Markell told the New York Times. Some also point to the fact that the programs offer a rare chance to integrate students with different backgrounds with relatively little backlash.