Hablas Español? Parlez-vous Français? Park City school kids do! The Park City elementary schools has a Dual Language Immersions program, which is very progressive for Utah.
When Salt Lake City welcomed the world in 2002, Park City served as an official venue. This brought the opportunity for residents to experience the melting pot of nationalities The Games brought to our quaint mountain town.
But the global spirit perseveres, thanks to the Park City School District. The schools implemented Dual Language Immersion five years ago, with all four elementary schools offering the program. Parley’s Park got started first, and the initial first grade class of Spanish DI students is now entering fifth grade. Last year’s first year students started the program in kindergarten and the effectiveness of a kindergarten start is currently being evaluated by the district.
Trailside and Jeremy Ranch elementary schools offer French, while McPolin Elementary extended its Spanish program to encompass the entire school. This means all students entering first grade this fall will be automatically enrolled in Spanish Dual Immersion.
Spearheaded by former Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr., Dual Language Immersion is one of the admittedly few areas of education in which Utah is progressive. Time magazine recently ran an article titled “How the Brain Benefits from Being Bilingual,” which highlighted the fact that 20% of Utah’s public schools offer dual language instruction.
Dual Language Immersion Benefits
According to the Utah State Office of Education, the benefits of Dual Language Immersion are numerous, and include:
- Second Language Skills – Students achieve high proficiency in the immersion language.
- Improved Performance on Standardized Tests – Immersion students perform as well as or better than non-immersion students on standardized tests of English and math administered in English.
- Enhanced Cognitive Skills – Immersion students typically develop greater cognitive flexibility, demonstrating increased attention control, better memory, and superior problem solving skills as well as an enhanced understanding of their primary language.
- Increased Cultural Sensitivity – Immersion students are more aware of and show more positive attitudes towards other cultures and an appreciation of other people.
- Long Term Benefits – Immersion students are better prepared for the global community and job markets where a second language is an asset.
Park City Schools Dual Language Immersion Program Application Process
Be warned, however, getting into the program isn’t easy. With the exception of McPolin, each school only programs two of its four or five classes as DI. Typically, more kids apply than there are spots available. So when we received word last spring that our daughter, Lila, got into the Spanish DI program, I felt the same way I imagine I’ll feel when she gets her first college acceptance letter!
If you want to keep Dual Immersion on the radar for your kids, be sure to check out the District’s website here. Applications are usually due in early March, but it pays to be vigilant since demand for the program is so intense. Though it might not be a good fit for every student, it is for kids who are well suited to Dual Immersion. The program increases global awareness from the beginning of their formal schooling. Other countries have been doing this all along and it’s something that’s right for Park City right now.