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Communication and collaboration in the global marketplace are increasingly valuable skills for our students as they prepare for college, careers, and citizenship after graduation. A program available at a number of Gwinnett elementary school (and expanding to middle and high school in coming years) promises to prepare students for this 21st century reality, and that promise is expanding!
In 2014, Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) launched its Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program in three elementary schools, offering Spanish at Annistown ES and Bethesda ES and French at Trip ES. Since then, three additional elementary schools— Baldwin, Camp Creek, and Ivy Creek— have started the program, all with Spanish language offerings.
The Gwinnett County Board of Education recently announced that three more schools will be joining the DLI family over the next two years bringing the total to nine schools. Level Creek ES and Meadowcreek ES will offer Spanish to kindergartners, beginning in August of 2018. The following school year, Parsons ES will launch the district’s first Korean DLI program.
“The success of our current programs and increased parental interest in the DLI program is driving this expansion,” says Dr. Jon Valentine, director of Foreign Language. Dr. Valentine sees the district becoming a model for development of advanced-level language proficiency through DLI. “It will provide a competitive advantage for our students, our schools, and the communities they serve,” he says.
Gwinnett uses a research-based, 50-50, two-teacher model that calls for students to spend half of their day learning in English and the other half learning content areas in the other language. Through the program, students will develop proficiency in both English and a new language, while ensuring both academic achievement and intercultural competence. The program launches with kindergarten students, then builds by one grade level every year as each cohort of students moves through school. Gwinnett’s first DLI schools are serving students in grades K–3 this school year.
Parents of incoming kindergartners should watch for more information about registration, starting in February. DLI schools accept transfers if available slots are not filled by students in the school zone and families provide transportation.