Dual Language programs provide enriched instruction in two languages (half in English, half in the program’s target language), with the goal of helping students to become bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural. Last year, access to these programs was a little random, but the DoE has changed their policy around application. You can do an advance search on Inside Schools to find which schools in your area have these programs. Search surrounding neighborhoods to make sure you have found all the programs close to you.
The Dual Language application process has reverted to the process that they were using previous to last year. This is good news for families who want to prioritize those programs.
When a school has a Dual Language program as well as general ed, they will have different code numbers and will be listed separately on the application. That means that if you only want a dual language program in a school you can list that program and not the school's general ed. You will rank the programs in the order that you like them. If you want DL Spanish, you can list all the schools that your heart desires with DLS programs at the top of your application list and then rank other programs that you don't like as much lower down.
On the application, you will be asked about your child's strength in speaking the 'target' language as well as English. If you believe that your child is a strong speaker of the target language, they will be assessed to determine their fluency. Assessments will be done WAY earlier than they have been done previously. There may be assessments scheduled this month and they will need to be finished by late Jan. Not every school may choose to assess applicants to verify the information provided (ask at the school). Any students that are not deemed eligible for the seats intended for ELLs (English Language Learners) based on the assessment will still be considered for the seats for English proficient students. All offers are made at the same time.
So, if a second language is a priority for you - they are a more viable option this year than they have been. If your child is a speaker of the target language - make sure to tell that to the school that you are interested in as well as listing it on your application, so that they make sure to schedule you for an assessment if they do one.
- These programs are not necessarily created equal. There are strong teachers and programs and not so strong. Don't just sign up willy nilly if you haven't thoroughly vetted the program.
- Not every child is cut out for dual language - it is hard in your first academic year at kindergarten to learn to read, write and speak in two languages. Be careful what you wish for.