A proven path to future success for Catholic schools exists: Dual language immersion schooling, a pedagogically successful, academically rich, intercultural program of education policy and practice. Research on dual language education and student outcomes has consistently found that English learners (ELs) in dual language programs outperform their peers in other educational models, both in terms of academic success and English language learning. Additionally, dual language schools help students maintain and develop their heritage language, build bridges to other languages and cultures, preserve intergenerational continuity and increase academic and economic opportunities. For this reason Notre Dame’s Dr. Luis Fraga suggests this innovative education model in Catholic schools may be, “the most long-lasting way that Catholics can meet the expectations of the USCCB’s to build more communities of intercultural competence grounded in a unifying living of the Gospel. It is hard to imagine a better gift that leaders of Catholic schools can leave to later generations of Catholic faithful."
Recognizing dual-language immersion to be an ideal fit for Catholic schools, the English as a New Language program has teamed up with the Notre Dame's Institute for Latino Studies and Holy Cross School in South Bend and St. Procopius School in Chicago to design, implement, and research its two-way Spanish immersion program.
Since 2017, the ENL team has worked side-by-side with Holy Cross School to implement a cutting-edge, 90-10 Spanish immersion program to complement its existing English track. Two-way immersion, committed to serving balanced numbers of native English- and native Spanish-speaking students, aims to educate all students to be fully bilingual and biliterate, i.e., able to speak, read, and write with equal competency in both English and Spanish.
Recently, the ENL team conducted a national survey of Catholic dual language schools and in the process, has compiled a national directory.
In 2020, we welcomed St. Procopius Elementary School, Chicago's only Catholic dual-language (English/Spanish) school, to our network.
Here at the CSA, we look forward to this continued partnership as we explore the full potential of two-way immersion in Catholic schools, and we invite you to check back for periodic updates about the growth of this program.