As we compete in the global economy, the need for bilingual or biliterate employees grows and so does the need for dual language programs.

According to national statistics, over 2,000 dual language immersion programs served children last year and roughly 800 of those programs were in Texas. Additionally, graduates can now have a “seal of biliteracy” added to their high school diploma, thus making them more competitive in the workforce.

“The momentum behind these programs is really amazing,” said Virginia P. Collier, a professor emeritus of education at George Mason University, in Virginia, who has studied dual-language programs extensively.

Seen as an asset, dual language programs can help close gaps for English Language Learners and other minority students. California schools have implemented two-way dual language programs where native English speakers and native Spanish speakers learn language together. Overall, students seems to be outperforming classmates not enrolled in dual language courses.

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Photo Courtesy: Michael Stravato for Education Week

After reading a story about a Mexican hat dance, 1st grader Ethan Wheeler tries out the dance himself at the Wharton K-8 Dual Language Academy in Houston, one of the oldest schoolwide dual-language programs in the country. Dual-language programs—in which teachers split instruction between English and another language—are growing in popularity nationwide.