Published : Thursday, January 12, 2017 | 3:50 PM
The Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) is accepting applications for a French dual language immersion program in the 2017-2018 academic year after a group of parents approached district officials with a proposal to add a third language to the district’s successful dual language programs. PUSD currently offers dual language immersion programs in Spanish and Mandarin.
“The ability to speak more than one language can enhance brain function, academic performance and business acumen,” said Superintendent Brian McDonald. “As a school system committed to responding to the needs and interests of Pasadena area families, we are expanding opportunities for multilingual education that prepare our students to compete on a global scale.”
Enthusiastic interest from a series of meetings with parents and an online survey prompted district officials to propose opening a French kindergarten, first, and second grade program in 2017-2018, with plans to expand the program into upper grades each year. The proposal is scheduled for discussion and action by the Board of Education in January.
Applications for the K-2 French dual language program will be accepted during the district’s annual Open Enrollment-School Choice process, which is January 12 through February 3, 2017. Families of entering kindergarten students can apply for the program online at 2017.open-enrollment.info. Families of entering first and second grade students must schedule an appointment with the district’s Language Assessment and Development Department at 626.396.3600 ext. 88280. All applicants who identify as French-dominant will be assessed for language fluency.
The French program will begin at Altadena Elementary School and may be moved to another site at a later time.
Pasadena Unified’s Dual Language Immersion Program launched in 2008 and expands to higher grades each year. The programs pair native and non-native speakers of the target language who access subject matter content in both English and the target language. The programs begin in kindergarten with 90 percent of instruction in the target language. Gradually the instruction shifts to 50 percent in English and 50 percent in the target language, prompting the student to master academic subjects in both. For more information about PUSD’s dual language immersion programs, go to pusd.us/Domain/1288
Pasadena Unified’s proposal reflects a national trend as dual-language programs grow in popularity across the country. Experts estimate there are at least 2,000 in the U.S. — a jump from about 260 in 2005. A joint U.S. Department of Education-American Institutes for Research report shows 39 states and Washington, D.C. were offering dual-language education during the 2012-13 school year, with Spanish and Chinese programs cited as the most commonly used languages.