A New Day in California: Training Teachers to Support Bilingualism

Jun 11, 2019 | New America

Kindergarteners at Maple Primary Center in Los Angeles learn half the day in English and half the day in Spanish. Many of these students are dual language learners, like 60% of children under 5 in California, they speak a language other than English at home.

Their teacher, Martiza Bringas is participating for the first time this year, in a unique partnership designed to strengthen instruction for this group of students through bilingual education models that centralize and prioritize the needs of dual language learners.

In 2016 California had a major policy shift with the passage of Proposition 58, which repealed the state's 20-year-old English-only education law and recognized the value of bilingualism. The law opened the door for the development of bilingual programs——that many educators in the state had been advocating for for years.

“We had previously been under the misconception in schools that kids need to learn English first, before they can learn content,” said Heather Skibbins, a lead trainer for the Sobrato Early Academic Language model (SEAL), that Bringas is participating in. “What we know now, is that we can’t wait.”

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