$38,000 grant will expand San Bernardino City Unified School District’s dual language immersion program – San Bernardino Sun

The San Bernardino City Unified School District has received a $380,000 state grant that will help it expand its dual language immersion program, giving more students access to bilingual education.

“There’s a lot of excitement among our families and the entire community,” Les Ojeda, the district’s elementary director of multilingual programs, said in a news release. “The funding allows us to really focus on expanding and improving our dual language program.”

The district’s multilingual programs department is overseeing the implementation of the California Department of Education Dual Language Immersion Grant.

According to Ojeda, the district’s dual language immersion program serves more than 3,000 students in dual language programs and more than 800 in transitional bilingual programs, from kindergarten through 12th grade.

The purpose of the Dual Language Immersion Grant is to expand dual language immersion programs that provide integrated language learning and academic instruction for English speakers and native speakers of another language. The goals of the program include high academic achievement, first- and second-language proficiency and cross-cultural understanding, according to the news release.

The district’s dual language immersion program is offered at 25 schools and promotes bilingualism and biliteracy in English and Spanish for native Spanish speakers and native English speakers.

Students receive academic instruction in English and Spanish based on the 90:10 model, meaning that 90 percent of the instruction is in one language and 10 percent in the other language with the percentage shifting each year until instruction is 50:50. The idea is that all students will be exposed to their native language and a second language in an academic setting.

The San Bernardino City Unified School District is also one of the few districts that offers a trilingual program in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Rodolfina “Rommy” Gamino, the mother of a dual language immersion senior at San Bernardino High School and president of the District English Learner Advisory Committee, credits the district’s Board of Education for having the foresight to pursue state funding for the benefit of local students.

“I am proud that this school district wants all students to speak at least two languages fluently,” Gamino said in the news release. “We want families and students in our community to feel proud that they speak two languages. That’s why more schools should offer the dual program.”

“SBCUSD makes dual language instruction a priority because research shows that students benefit academically and socially,” Barbara Flores, a member of the San Bernardino City Unified School District Board of Education and president of the California Association for Bilingual Education, said in the news release.

Flores, who retired after 32 years as a literacy and biliteracy professor at Cal State San Bernardino. is also one of six co-chairmen of California’s Literacy and Biliteracy Initiative.

“Dual language immersion is essential to ensure that our students reach their fullest potential,” Flores said in the news release. “All the research and anecdotal evidence shows that students who graduate from dual language programs academically outperform many other students and also develop cross-cultural understanding, appreciation and respect for multiple perspectives.”

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