Entrance Criteria to the DLI Program
The following is a response from Virginia P. Collier, Ph.D., University of Southern California Professor Emeritus, renowned researcher and expert on Dual Language Immersion and Language Acquisition. Below is her response when asked about the optimal window for admitting students into the program.
“We recommend that if it is a two-way program, for the native English speakers,
they may be admitted into the program in either kindergarten or first grade, but after that,
no more English speakers who don't speak the partner language are typically
admitted from second grade on up, because the subject material is complex and those
students not proficient in the partner language may hold the class back when instructional
work is in the partner language, and they probably won't have opportunities to be
acquiring Spanish outside of school.
For the native Spanish speakers (assuming that is the partner language for your program),
they can and should be admitted at any grade level, because that is the best placement
for Spanish speakers and they will benefit greatly from participation in the program.
However, if a new Spanish-speaking immigrant recently arrived has not had the
opportunity to attend school, or has missed a lot of schooling, or perhaps has never had
the opportunity to develop reading and writing skills in Spanish, then it becomes more
difficult to include that student in the dual language class if that student is by age ready
to be placed in an upper elementary grade or beyond. If you can include the newly
arriving Spanish speakers, and they have had good schooling and are on grade level, they
are wonderful additions to the class for peer tutoring in Spanish. If they are older
students, during the English instructional time, they will need an ESL content teacher to
provide that extra support in the beginning couple of years of acquisition of English.”