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Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: Jing Mei Elementary

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May 8, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Learning in two languages boosts student achievement, study says

In our ever-global world, more and more parents want their children to be fluent in more than one language. Dozens of public schools in Washington state offer classes where teachers spend part of the day speaking English, and part speaking another language — usually Spanish or Chinese.

For English-speaking students, one benefit is the chance to become fluent in a second language at a young age. The benefits for non-English speakers in such programs might even be greater.

Last week, researchers at Stanford University released yet another study that backs the value of the dual-language approach.

Over 10 years, the researchers tracked about 18,000 English-language learners in San Francisco and found that, by middle school, students in dual-language programs outperformed those in English-only programs on a number of tests. The dual-language students even did better than those in bilingual programs where students got some support in their native language.

Students in English-only classes had the highest scores in early elementary grades, researchers said, but the students in dual-language classes caught up a few years later, then passed them.

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