6. How can TWI program parents help families who don’t have children in the program understand its benefits?

There are many things that program parents can do to help other parents learn about dual language education. For example, they can form a PTA subgroup that responds to queries from interested parents. They can organize a Parent-to-Parent Information Day and be accessible to prospective parents for questions about the program. On these occasions, they can talk about how their children are doing at school and show examples of written work in both languages. A personal testimony describing how the program has helped a particular child is often the best evidence of program success.

At Amigos, a 50/50 program in Cambridge, MA, program parents invite their friends outside of the program to celebrations and activities in the evenings and on weekends. Seeing families speaking and having a good time in two languages encourages others to join in the fun and experience for themselves the rich rewards of two-way immersion education.

Guided tours conducted by program parents for other parents during the school day are also a good way to help people understand TWI. During these tours, parents should be invited to visit classes, including a lower grade—perhaps a kindergarten class—and an upper grade, so they can see firsthand the progress that children make when they remain in the program. The Amigos program suggests that touring parents take time to speak with the students, who can articulate what it means to be schooled in two languages, and to examine students’ written work and projects. Program parents can encourage the school to keep on hand a few portfolios of former students who have gone through the program so that parents can see how students progress over time.