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Dual Language Strategies in the Early Grades

Author: Helios Education Foundation

Our fundamental beliefs in community, equity, investment and partnership drive Helios Education Foundation to ensure that every student, regardless of zip code, receives a high-quality education. As our communities become more diverse and our students not only exposed to, but fluent in, multiple home languages, classroom  instruction that does not capitalize on this diversity falls short of delivering a globally-competitive education.

“Children who are immersed in dual language programs during the early grades gain the most benefit not only throughout their education journey, but throughout life,” explained Dr. Karen Ortiz, Vice President, Early Grade Success Initiatives at Helios Education Foundation. “The ability for a child to process multiple languages leads her to not only be bilingual, but bi-literate and bicultural,” continued Ortiz. Research affirms the ability to speak and read in multiple languages offers social, cultural, cognitive, and economic benefits.

Helios Education Foundation, joined by partners Arizona State University, Childsplay, Inc., and Orlando Repertory Theatre, Inc., has engaged the Osborn and Creighton School districts in Arizona as well as Orange County Public Schools in Orlando in the implementation of a dual language learning program. The immersion model utilizes dramatic frames to bridge the linguistic barrier between English and Spanish in order to engage children in the holistic learning of both languages.  

While the Helios Education Foundation Dual Language Learners program has yet to be fully implemented in both states, we have identified some early learnings that can improve future implementation in an education brief entitled Using Dual Language Strategies in the Early Grades”. Early observations regarding student engagement, educator professional development and the necessity of district and staff commitment highlight these factors, among others, as foundational to success.  

We hope you find the education brief not only informative, but also thought provoking as multilingualism evolves in our nation. 

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