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Leader Editorial: Lessons from language-immersion success

The opinion of the Leader

January 24, 2014

The Spanish dual-language immersion program launched at a Disney Elementary kindergarten class this year has been so well-received by educators and parents alike that Burbank Unified School District officials are looking to expand it next fall.

The district started the program on a small scale, with just 29 kindergartners, who spend 80% of their school day speaking and learning, math, science, language arts and social studies in Spanish. Officials are now looking to add two more kindergarten classes at Disney to the dual-language immersion program. And, as we reported this week, the district is considering offering such a program in Armenian by next fall.

This is all to the good but we’d urge district officials to keep a close eye on Glendale Unified’s experience in this area and take some lessons.

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Glendale’s dual-immersion programs, undertaken about a decade ago, have been wildly successful. More than 2,200 students are enrolled throughout GUSD’s seven language programs and there are waiting lists. Eleven campuses are offering the programs; the languages being taught include Spanish, Armenian, Korean, French, German, Italian and Japanese. But there have been a few problems along the way, including overcrowding as the district attempts to accommodate everyone who wants to participate. There’s also been some debate — there are parents who have concerns that the character of their neighborhood schools is in jeopardy.

We’d like to see Burbank Unified continue with a slow-and-steady approach as it looks to expand into more dual-language immersion programs.

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