Dual-Language Immersion Education at Bobcat Canyon School: A Case Study
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractDual-language (DL) programs have increased in popularity in various educational contexts in United States (Valdez, Freire & Delavan, 2016). However, research on DL immersion education for pre-school children is especially lacking. Bilingual education research in U.S. has mostly concerned English/Spanish bilingual programs (e.g., Martínez, Hikida & Durán, 2015; Soltero-González & Butvilofsky, 2016), while Chinese/English (Sung & Tsai, 2019) and languages of historical immigrant groups, such as French, German, and Russian (Dejonge-Kannan, Spicer-Escalante, Abell, & Salgado, 2017) have received less attention. In addition, research that reports on tensions or controversies in dual-language education programs (Soderman, 2010) also reveals a gap between what dual language immersion should look like theoretically and what dual language immersion actually looks like in practice. Moreover, though strong models of dual-language education has been shown to be an effective enrichment model for English language learners (Valentino & Reardon, 2015), scholars have been concerned about the role of this model in addressing educational inequities as a trend of DL as an enrichment model serving English language learners to one that mainstreams and gentrifies the benefits for those who are already privileged has been documented (Valdés, 1997; Flores, 2015; Valdez, Freire & Delavan, 2016; Freire, Valdez & Delavan, 2017). Under these contexts, this qualitative case study, deploying methods of qualitative interview, ethnographic observation and fieldnotes, and document analysis, explored a private multi-language-track DL immersion preschool in the Southwest USA where eight teachers, two school administrators, and eighteen parents were interviewed and observed for the exploration of the following questions: 1) How dual-language immersion is defined and conceptualized by the parents, teachers, and school administrators; 2) Why parents choose this private tuition-based private school over other public or private schools irrespective of DL; 3) What language ideologies parents, teachers, and school administrators have with respect to early dual-immersion education; 4) How the parents make decisions about language tracks (options) for enrollment; and 5) What perspectives about BCS being a private school and providing elite education parents, teachers, and school administrators have. Findings show that DL immersion education was operationalized as full-immersion in a target language for the preschool and as dual-immersion model where a target language was taught for 11 hours as a subject while academic subjects were taught in English. At preschool level, a target language served as an environment for maximized cognitive development, acquisition of social skills, and academic readiness while biliteracy was a hope or a bonus if achieved. How, when, and where parents, teachers, and school administrators used languages led children to making assumptions about different language. Though the school made deliberate efforts to equalize the status of different languages, English, as a result, was still considered the language of popularity, commonality, and superiority. Parents chose one language over the others for cultural, economic, and cognitive reasons. Similarly, parents chose tuition-based immersion education over other non-tuition-based schools for a combination of economic, academic, affective, cognitive and developmental, cultural, linguistic, and curricula reasons. However, parents still expressed concerns about challenges involved in learning a second or a third language, linguistically and socially. Perspectives about the school being private and thus elite, perspectives divided depending on how elite education is defined. Parents, teachers, and school administrators argued that the school was not elite though private based on the accessibility, orientation, culture, cost, and curricula of the school, while one or two parents argued that the school was elite in some sense based on the limited access, socioeconomic status of parents, and the extraordinary resources and experiences the school provided. Implications for different educational stakeholders are discussed at the end.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Language, Reading & Culture