What does the research say?
The most comprehensive study to date on dual-language programs was conducted by Wayne P. Thomas and Virginia P. Collier, researchers from George Mason University. They concluded that children in well-implemented, two-way bilingual programs outperform students in traditional one-language classes later, in elementary school. Other benefits include:
- Fluency in two languages.
- Accelerated intellectual growth.
- Enhanced problem-solving skills.
- Increased future job opportunities for graduates.
- Greater opportunities for native-like pronunciation.
Bilingual Students Excel at Reading, Problem Solving and Other Areas
Researchers report that most “fully proficient bilinguals outperform monolinguals in the areas of divergent thinking, pattern recognition, and problem solving” in addition to outperforming their monolingual peers on assessments in reading.
- “Bilingual children develop the ability to solve problems that contain conflicting or misleading cues at an earlier age, and they can decipher them more quickly than monolinguals. When doing so, they demonstrate an advantage with selective attention and greater executive or inhibitory control.”
- “Fully proficient bilingual children have also been found to exhibit enhanced sensitivity to verbal and non-verbal cues and to show greater attention to their listeners’ needs relative to monolingual children. Further, bilingual students display greater facility in learning additional languages when compared with monolinguals.”
Center for Advanced Research on Language AcquisitionUniversity of Minnesota
Immersion Students Outperform Peers
School divisions nationwide report expanding the number of schools offering students the opportunity to learn and study in two languages. Researchers attribute this expansion to the advantages of immersion. A recent three-year study by Portland Public Schools, in collaboration with researchers from Rand Corporation, American University and American Councils for Education, examined the teaching strategies used by teachers and how teachers and students used the target languages.
The study concluded that:
- Randomly selected Dual Language Immersion Program students outperformed their non-immersion peers in reading at grades 5 and 8.
- Dual Language Immersion Program students by grade 8 achieved intermediate proficiency on the Standards-based Measurement of Proficiency (STAMP) 4S language assessment while students enrolled in non-immersion foreign language classes achieved at the novice level.
- By high school, students who were identified as English learners lost this designation earlier than their English learner peers who had not participated in a Dual Language Immersion Program.
Portland Public Schools, Rand Corporation, American University and American Councils for Education
Want to know more?
- https://www.pps.net/page/269 Portland Public Schools Study
- http://carla.umn.edu/immersion/documents/ImmersionResearch_TaraFortune.html Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition