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Dec 1, 2023
Dual Language Immersion (DLI) programs are school programs in which students learn grade-level content in English and a second language. For example, students might learn math and science solely in Arabic, but they learn social studies and language arts solely in English. All students also learn Arabic as a language. DLI provides two academic outcomes: Arabic language bilingualism and biliteracy and grade-level content learning.
Many DLI schools offer a variety of language options to choose from (Spanish, Mandarin, and Arabic tracks, for example), while some specialize in only one modern global language offering alongside English. Various programs follow different models; some follow a 50:50 model (half of the school day is taught in Arabic, and half is taught in English), while others may follow 80:20 or other such models.
DLI programs typically follow one of two different models.
DLI programs also offer different teacher approaches:
Numerous studies support the cognitive benefits of language learning and bilingualism. These benefits include enhanced cognitive flexibility and executive function – including greater listening skills, memory, and grasp of one’s native language – and social connections – including an improved concept of self and openness to and appreciation for other cultures. Studies also show that students in DLI programs outperform their counterparts in standardized testing in English and math.
Also, young students don’t experience many of the insecurities that come with learning a language as an adult. Children are willing to take more risks and make more mistakes, which helps them achieve more as learners. And starting young allows students to not only become bilingual but biliterate.
Arabic is a Category IV language for native English speakers; it requires more contact hours to attain proficiency than other languages. A DLI program gives students the contact hours they need to develop greater levels of proficiency quicker.
DLI is also a great option for students who speak Arabic as a first/native/heritage language. Often, such students aren’t necessarily fluent, speak a dialect at home, and/or have no formal training in Modern Standard Arabic or in Arabic reading, writing and grammar. A DLI program enables such students to benefit from formal training in Arabic and to build on their language repertoire.
Multilingualism is increasingly important in today’s interconnected world. People who speak two or more languages stand out on college and job applications – especially people who speak critical languages like Arabic – and are likely to receive higher salaries as a result. Learning Arabic at an Arabic DLI program opens the doors to careers in numerous fields such as diplomacy, business, education, policy and journalism.
Consider your surrounding environment:
Do you have district support?
Stay true to immersion.
What language should I speak with my child at home?
How can I help my child with homework if I don’t speak Arabic?
The above is not meant to be a comprehensive list, but rather a starting point as you explore Dual Language Immersion programs. To learn more about DLI, check out these resources:
QFI provides professional development and other support to four public school Arabic DLI programs in the US: PS/IS 30 in Brooklyn, New York; Elizabeth Learning Center in Cudahy, CA; Arabic Immersion Magnet School in Houston, TX; and Baltimore International Academy in Baltimore, Maryland. Please see this article from ACTFL’s Language Educator (2020) to learn more about each school program and the support QFI offers: https://www.qfi.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/TLE_AprMay20_FT-Allaf.pdf.
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