Dual language classrooms aim to not only teach a language but also to create an environment where students can understand the culture behind the language. Daily interactions with teachers who speak the targeted language help students see and understand the culture. This provides authentic opportunities to help them gain a broader perspective of what their lives are and can be.
Larger cultural events also take place in many DLI schools. Portuguese students participate in Festa Junina, Chinese students celebrate Lunar New Year, Spanish DLI students enjoy a Fiesta in the spring, and other DLI schools offer varied connections to traditions and cultures that exist around the world.
At a young age, this helps students gain a better sense of themselves and the things around them, increasing positive attitudes toward other people and cultures. When students begin to understand something else exists outside of their own traditions and culture, they are able to realize the world is a big place with so many possibilities.
Understanding the language and culture that is taught in the DLI classrooms does many things to supplement the education of students. It prepares students for the global job market and allows for international opportunities that may not have been otherwise possible.
It’s important to note the benefits of the DLI program do not wait until adulthood. Students often find their new language becomes a part of their identity. It is something that builds them up and helps them realize they are capable of doing difficult things. There are many lessons that are important to our children, but when children learn to do hard things, they become stronger and more resilient. They become more capable of handling the next big challenge.
Dual Language Immersion is about more than just learning a new language and culture. It’s also about teaching children they are capable of doing amazing things, one day at a time.
Principal Stephanie Feldmann
Northlake Elementary School