Parents' Questions About Two-Way Immersion
- What advantages are there for my child in a TWI program? Are the advantages the same for language minority and language majority students?
- How do students in TWI programs compare academically to students in other types of educational programs?
- When do students perform at grade level on standardized achievement tests in their first and second languages? Is the time frame different for 90/10 vs. 50/50 models?
- Within TWI programs, how does the academic performance of native English speakers compare to that of English language learners?
- What are the characteristics of students who are successful in TWI programs?
- How can TWI program parents help families who donít have children in the program understand its benefits?
- How can TWI parents work with the school board and district administrators to help them understand the importance of supporting TWI programs?
- What should a TWI program do to promote home-school connections? What can I do as a parent to get involved?
- How can I help support my child in doing homework in the second language, particularly if I donít know that language? What kind of homework support can the program provide?
- What resources exist for parents of TWI students? Are there conferences that I might enjoy attending?
7. How can TWI parents work with the school board and district administrators to help them understand the importance of supporting TWI programs?
There are many things that parents can do to help the school board and administrators understand the benefits of two-way immersion education.
First, parents should do everything they can to make the program a success, and then they should publicly report the programís successes. Administrators and school board members are most likely to support an effective program that has accumulated solid evidence of promoting academic achievement among the student population. Thus, important first steps in generating support for TWI programs include working with the program to help build its quality so that it produces good results for students; monitoring studentsí language, literacy, and academic progress; making improvements to the program as needed; and publicly reporting successes.
Parents can help the board and administrators better understand TWI by speaking up for the program as they participate in school and school district activities. For example, they can join the advisory committees that school boards and districts set up for parent and community input, such as those dealing with curriculum and instruction, foreign language, and ESL. When budget issues arise, parents can offer testimonials about the value of the dual language program and have their children do so, too, at public board meetings. In addition, small coalitions of parents that include native speakers of both program languages can make appointments to talk with district administrators about what the program has meant to them as parents. Writing letters to the editor of a local paper is a way to provide information about the program to the community at large.
Administrators and school board members can be invited to visit the program, and parents can accompany them to guide the visit and highlight noteworthy features. Seeing is believing: Many people do not become convinced of the benefits of dual language programs until they can actually see the program at work. PTAs should be sure to invite board members to program events, such as plays, concerts, and other activities that showcase both languages.
Finally, parents can support the work of administrators and school board members who already appreciate the value of the program and help them influence their less enthusiastic peers. Input from peers is often the most compelling input of all. Friends of two-way immersion should be informed regularly about program activities and student achievement.