“Multilingualism is not a problem, it’s a gift.”
— Leena Husa
Experts agree: knowing more than one language has important cognitive, social and economic benefits. These benefits accrue not just to individuals but also to our community as a whole. California is fortunate in having over 2 million children who enter our schools as dual language learners, students who speak a language other than English at home and will be adding English to their repertoire. This represents 41.6 percent of the state’s public school enrollment. Here in Santa Cruz County, there are over 17,000 students who speak a language in addition to English at home, representing 45% of our public school enrollment.
Supporting these students in reaching their full potential is critical to the future of our county and state. In response, the California Department of Education has recently published an English Learner Roadmap that outlines key principles for the community and districts to use as they develop programs to ensure that we educate these students to reach their full potential as multilingual citizens. The English Learner Roadmap defines four critical principles for the success of English learners:
Principle One: Assets-Oriented and Needs-Responsive Schools
Principle Two: Intellectual Quality of Instruction and Meaningful Access
Principle Three: System Conditions that Support Effectiveness
Principle Four: Alignment and Articulation within and Across Systems
In honor of April as National Bilingual Multilingual Advocacy Month, the COE will be featuring a series of articles highlighting programs and practices in our public schools that exemplify these principles. Look for articles on the Language Support Liaison program in Pajaro Valley Unified School District, Spanish for Native Speakers classes in our high schools, a new statewide English Language Proficiency assessment, and the Young Writers Program. Each of these articles will help you understand how the county’s public schools are working to provide multiple charging points for these students to replenish their energies as they continue working to reach their full potential.