Dual Language Immersions schools continue to grow

Jennifer Wirth | Lehi Free Press

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New Elementary School in north Lehi to be French dual ImmersionThe population in Utah County, especially within Lehi City, has and will continue to grow. With that growth comes new schools and keeping up with not only growth but the expectation of meeting many students’ educational needs. A new elementary school in north Lehi will open to students for the 2018/2019 school year and has officially been assigned as a French dual language immersion school. This will be the first French immersion elementary school in Alpine School District.

The new school will take in students from Fox Hollow Elementary school and Traverse Mountain Elementary school and is currently in the naming process. Alpine School District dual language immersion representative Allen Smithee said that looking at previous year’s online applications and the location those applications came from, helped determine that a dual language program would be a good fit for the new school in north Lehi. Smithee said, “In looking at dual immersion programs and people applying for them within the Alpine School District, there’s a hole in American Fork and northwest Lehi that this new school will fill.”

When asked about the likelihood that new schools in the Lehi area currently scheduled to be built becoming dual immersion schools, Smithee stated that “It’s likely but I can’t say for sure. All schools are competing for good teachers. Dual language schools need not only good teachers, but teachers that are native speakers in the target language and are also good at teaching.”

Dual language schools have grown in number and popularity over the past decade. In 2008, the Utah Senate passed the International Initiative, creating funding for schools to begin dual language immersion programs in Chinese, French, and Spanish. Over the next few years, Portuguese, German, and Russian languages were added. By the 2014 school year, over 100 Utah schools participated in the program. Presently over 160 schools in Utah use dual language immersion.

In Alpine School District, there will be 12 elementary schools that are dual language for the 2018-2019 school year. These dual language immersion schools use a fifty-fifty model for teaching, in which students spend half of the school day in the target language and the other half of the day in English. There are two teachers per immersion class, one who instructs exclusively in the target language and the other teaching in English. The expectation of dual language immersion is that by the time students enter seventh through ninth grades, they are enrolled in advanced placement language coursework, and passing the AP exam in either ninth or tenth grade. In the following years of high school, students will be offered upper division university-level coursework, with participating university professors helping teach those classes.

This past Monday, a district-wide email was sent announcing the French dual language immersion option at the new school and information about how to apply. Classes will be filled with 50% of students within each class coming from inside the schools’ boundaries, then opening the remaining places to transferring students. Parents and guardians with elementary age children in Alpine School District who are interested in applying for these classes can find the application and information on the district website.

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