Moline-Coal Valley School District offers a unique Dual Language Immersion Program

The Moline-Coal Valley School District is the only school district in the QCA to offer a dual immersion program.
Published: Apr. 15, 2022 at 6:15 PM CDT
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MOLINE, Ill. (KWQC) - According to the United State Census, just over 20% of people in the United States are bilingual. Here in the Quad Cities, the Moline-Coal Valley Dual Language Spanish Immersion Program is designed to help students become bilingual and biliterate by fifth grade, and prepare them for the job market.

“When you speak two languages, you are worth two people,” said Rosalva Portillo, Lincoln-Irving Elementary School’s principal.

The Moline-Coal Valley School District is the only school district in the QCA to offer a dual immersion program.

“It’s an enrichment model, meaning we utilize both languages to grow the brain into bilingualism,” said Leslie Perkins, the Moline-Coal Valley School District’s English learners coordinator.

The dual immersion program started at Lincoln-Irving Elementary School and has now expanded to middle school and high school. Perkins estimated 400 students are in the program.

“In kindergarten, students are taught 80% in Spanish, 20% in English,” Perkins said. “By the time they are in third grade, it’s a 50-50 model. That continues through fifth grade.”

Fourth-grader Jesus Lopez said it is helpful to know how to communicate in multiple languages.

“If you talk to somebody that doesn’t know a language, and knows another language that you know, you can talk to them in that one,” Lopez said

In classrooms, there are color-coded posters with both Spanish and English vocabulary.

“Sometimes the kids will be able to manage within the languages, and that’s the beauty of having this program,” Portillo said. “We are not limiting them to only using one linguistic source. They can use their English when they need to, they can use Spanish as well. It’s neat to see them being able to maneuver between the two.”

Perkins said the advantages of being bilingual go beyond the classroom.

“We know that in the job market, people will hire a bilingual person over a monolingual person just to be able to serve the growing population,” Perkins said.

“You expand your population, you expand your knowledge because you can maneuver between the two languages, and have that edge of being able to communicate with more people,” Portillo said.

Portillo said feedback from parents within the district has been great, and it’s exciting to see students’ vocabulary grow.

The program is primarily for students living within the Lincoln-Irving boundary, but families in the district can fill out a dual language transfer form at school registration.

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