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ENL 15 on the 15th: Dual Language Schools

Monday, March 14, 2016 by Katy Walter Lichon, Ph.D.

ENL 15 on the 15th Resources Dual Language Schools

This month’s 15 on 15th spotlights an innovative school model – Dual Language Catholic schools or Two-Way Immersion (TWI) Catholic schools. We invite you to take 15 minutes to learn more about this model, which manifests deep mutual respect for linguistic and cultural diversity. This model has shown evidence of cognitive, social, emotional, and economic benefits (Gándara, 2015).

Dual Language Catholic schools are grounded in an educational approach that recognizes language and culture as assets to instruction and learning. In this model, native English speakers and speakers of another language (traditionally Spanish speakers) learn side-by-side, and content and literacy is taught in both languages. The most common models are 90/10 (students learn literacy sequentially in one language and then the other) and 50/50 (students learn literacy simultaneously in two languages). The ultimate goal is bilingualism, biliteracy, and biculturalism, the sharing of faith traditions, and solidarity in Gospel witness.

There is much excitement surrounding the growth of Dual Language Catholic schools in the United States. We’ve collected several resources to help you learn more about how these schools work and why Catholic schools are so well positioned to implement the model so effectively.

Finally, consider completing a survey to help us learn more about Dual Language schools in your area.

What Research Says

  • In this article by Collier and Thomas (2004), the authors describe the “astounding” effects of two-way immersion for all learners, as well as the closure of the achievement gap for English language learners. 
  • This set of guiding principles from the Center for Applied Linguistics is divided into seven strands which include topics such as assessment and accountability, curriculum, instruction, and program structure among others.
  • In a review of research, Howard, Sugarman, and Christian (2003), describe ways of measuring literacy and language outcomes.

Why Dual Language Works Well in Catholic Schools

  • Fraga (2016) explores the promise and potential of Two-Way Immersion in Catholic Schools. Fraga suggests that the model can build “intercultural communities grounded in Catholic faith” (p. 141). 
  • Scanlon and Zehrbach (2010) make the case that a “two-way immersion approach to bilingual service delivery is philosophically and functionally well suited for Catholic schooling” (p. 67).
  • In this article, the principal of the school stated, “We've had a lot of newcomer students come to us because it is a safe place where they can learn, but also where their culture, their language, is valued.” Read more about the school’s transition and about the Two-Way Immersion Network for Catholic Schools: http://www.twin-cs.org/

School Spotlights

About the Author

Katy Walter Lichon, Ph.D.

Katy Walter Lichon, Ph.D.

Katy Walter Lichon serves as the Director for the English as a New Language (ENL) Program, the Director of the Catholic School Advantage (CSA), and is a faculty member with ACE Teaching Fellows. In addition, she serves as a faculty fellow for Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies, Global Center for the Development of the Whole Child, Center for Literacy Education, and Center for the Study of Language and Culture. 

Lichon is an educational linguist who focuses on the education of K-12 multilingual learners in Catholic schools and teacher education. This work has led to the publication of English Oral Language Assessment (ACE Press, 2013), Our Legacy and Our Future: A Framework for Serving English Learners in Catholic Schools (NCEA Press, 2017), Supporting English Learners: A Diocesan Handbook for K-12 (NCEA Press, 2018), and Ten Days to Becoming a Better Educator of English Learners (NCEA Press, 2018), as well as numerous articles in diverse publications. She was honored with the Christ the Teacher award in 2020.

Lichon received her B.B.A. in marketing and management from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, M.Ed. from the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana, and her Ph.D. in Educational Philosophy from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Lichon has also helped to begin the two-way immersion program at Holy Cross School in South Bend, IN, that is now in its fourth year. She resides in South Bend, Indiana with her husband and three children.