Burbank Unified is moving to join the growing trend of dual-language education — a system that in neighboring Glendale has spread like wildfire as parents eagerly sign their students up to be fluent in one of six languages by the time they graduate from elementary school.
In dual immersion classes, students can spend up to 90% of the day speaking, reading and writing in a foreign language. At the very minimum, students spend half the day working in English and the other half in a second language.
“Bilingualism has made a comeback,” said Tom Kissinger, director of elementary education for Burbank Unified.
In 31 states, there are 422 dual immersion programs, and California leads with 233 programs, he said during a school board meeting last week.
Meanwhile, Kissinger said questions from parents on why Burbank Unified has no similar program have rolled in.
In fact, some of them have gone across the district border to enroll their children in Glendale Unified’s own program, in which elementary students spend at least half the school day working in French, Italian, German, Spanish, Korean and Armenian.