Dual Language Immersion- Is it Really Worth the Hype?

As a mom of a rising kindergartener, my time has recently been consumed with well-child visits, immunizations, and unending searches for important documents like birth certificates and social security numbers. Getting my daughter prepared for kindergarten registration is both exhilarating (no more preschool fees) and scary (she’s still a baby in my eyes) all at the same time. There are so many things to consider: will I still have to make her lunches? What will I do for afterschool care? Or how will she handle the transition?

All this planning has left me feeling a little overwhelmed. One thing I am certain about is I would love for her to participate in the dual language immersion (DLI) program at our neighborhood school. I recognize it’s a competitive process and there are no guarantees she will be accepted but it’s worth a shot, right? So, here’s are some reasons why I’m all-in for the DLI program. 


What’s a Dual Language Immersion Program anyway?

Truth be told, I’m probably a little biased when it comes to dual language programs. From kindergarten through high school I was enrolled in a French immersion program spending the majority of my day learning and conversing in French. My Jamaican parents loved the idea of having bilingual children even if they were unable to help us with our homework since they don’t speak the language. Somehow, I excelled and even graduated with a certificate in bilingual studies.

Here in Georgia, a dual language student spends at least half of their school day learning the target language and the other half-day learning in English. Students are assigned two teachers (one fluent in the target language) who teaches math, science, and literacy in the new language; and the other instructor who teaches language arts and social studies in English. Enrollment in this program is voluntary, and most students begin in kindergarten. I live in Gwinnett County and my zoned school is offering Spanish, the most spoken non-English language in the United States.   

Benefits of Dual Language Immersiondual-language-immersion-pros-and-cons

Other than my own personal experience with dual immersion, there are a number of added benefits of dual language learning like:

  • Better outcomes on standardized tests for English and math.
  • Improved attention span, better memory, and superior problem-solving skills.
  • Higher attendance rates and lower drop-out rates compared to regular programs.

My husband and I attended the mandatory parent meeting where we met the school principal and listened to an hour presentation by the County’s Director of Foreign Language. We were impressed by the quality of the curriculum and program outcomes. My personal takeaway from the presentation is that DLI is a long-term commitment and we should expect to see the real benefits in about twelve years.

Even though the curriculum is pretty tough, I’m confident my daughter I will be able to keep up with the academic demands (she’s so much smarter than I was at that age). While the academic and cognitive benefits of the curriculum are great, what I’m really hoping is this program will help her to have a better understanding and appreciation for other cultures.

Long-term Benefits

Truth be told, my daughter is probably more looking forward to making friends and having fun next school year, but if she is chosen for the dual immersion program, I hope she finds her time in the program just as memorable as I did. If she doesn’t get in, well, I’m certain she will still excel in any given classroom.