New law expands dual-language learning

May 11, 2017

A bill sponsored by Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self will expand dual language programming in Washington state. Ortiz-Self represents the 21 Legislative District, which serves Edmonds.

Gov. Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1445 into law.

A dual language program provides content-based instruction to students in two languages: English and a target language spoken in the local community. The goal is for students to become proficient and literate in both languages, while also meeting high academic standards in all subject areas.

Ortiz-Self said that growing dual language programs can help close the academic opportunity gap, foster positive identity development, and build communities that value the diversity of languages and cultures across Washington.

“The more parents and teachers I talk with about the best ways to give all children in Washington the tools they need to succeed in school, the more convinced I am that this is a step in the right direction,” said the Mukilteo Democrat.

Ortiz-Self said she believes the law can make a difference in the lives of English language learners and their families by making dual language programs more available to them.

The new law will create two-year grants to expand dual language programs for elementary and secondary students.

Research shows that dual language programs are the best way to increase student achievement for English learners, while also improving education outcomes for their monolingual peers, Ortiz-Self said.

“This law will also benefit English-only students by giving them the opportunity to learn another language at an early age,” said Ortiz-Self, who is fluent in Spanish. “A second language translates into a marketable skill that becomes an asset in the professional arena, especially in this global economy.”

The law will go into effect on July 23, 2017.

 

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