Dueling Dual Languages

Written by new Edgewater Echo writer and Edgewater resident Kate Mulcahy

When my husband and I moved to Edgewater last year, we researched the schools.  We wanted to know about our local options for our two munchkins at home.  In our research, we learned that both Edgewater Elementary and Lumberg Elementary were dual-language schools, but we weren’t exactly sure what that meant.  So, I looked it up.

Dual language: a form of education in which students are taught literacy and content in two languages.  Thanks Wikipedia.

This sounded great!  Research shows that dual language programs help students outperform their peers that are not in dual language programs.  I was ecstatic to think that my children would be gaining these benefits, and I started chatting up the schools to my friends.  However, my excitement was soon crushed when a friend pointed out the difference between one-way dual language and two-way dual language programs.

Long story short, Edgewater’s schools are a one-way dual language program, which in this case means that only the Spanish-speaking students gain the benefits of this program.  Bummer!  My kids would miss out on this amazing learning opportunity.  I felt cheated.

However, as I did more research, it seemed like the English speaking kids weren’t the only ones missing out.  Even the Spanish speaking students who were enrolled in the one-way dual language program would miss out on benefits that a two-way dual language program could offer.

Studies have shown that not only do students learn another language in a two-way language program, but they also learn to respect and value multiple languages and cultures.  Sadly, there is a hidden message when only one language is emphasized to an entire school instead of both languages: that language is more important.  What are we saying to our Spanish speaking residents when we have their children learn English, but don’t bother to teach our own students Spanish?

Edgewater is a progressive and community-oriented town.  I constantly hear of individuals and small organizations trying to support and bring together all of Edgewater’s citizens.  What better way to bridge together a community than through its schools?

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