Utah Dual Language Immersion (DLI) is a state supported program in which students spend half the day in English with one teacher and half the day with another teacher in a second language. Park City School District offers programs with Spanish and French as second languages. The mission of Dual Immersion is to prepare linguistically and culturally competent students who can successfully compete in a complex global economy.
PCSD was actually the first district in Utah to have DLI programs in all of its elementary schools. Each school program goes 1st–5th grade and uses the Utah DLI two-teacher 50/50 model, in which 50% of classroom instructional time is in English and 50% is in the other language. Jeremy Ranch and Trailside Elementary School specialize in French. Their programs are a one-way DLI program, as nearly all students are native speakers of the same language. Parley’s Park and McPolin Elementary, on the other hand, focus on Spanish. These two schools have a two-way DLI program, as roughly equal numbers of students are native speakers of either language. Additionally, the first cohort of French DLI students is in their sophomore year of high school while the first cohort of Spanish DLI students is in their senior year.
How do students get into these programs? PCSD’s DLI model is not a gifted and talented program, but rather all students, regardless of (dis)ability, are invited and encouraged to apply. A lottery is conducted every year that allows for 46 students (maximum) per grade-level cohort (23 per class) at each school to enroll. Program directors work to keep a balance of male/female. In the case of the two-way program at Parley, numbers of native/non-native speakers of the target languages are also balanced. Those who aren’t selected in the initial lottery are placed on a waitlist that is maintained by the ESL and DLI coordinator, Martin Briggs, and the teaching and learning department’s administrative assistant, Cindy Hair. This list is maintained throughout the school year. McPolin Elementary offers a unique whole-school DLI model in which all students in Grades 1-5 are in Spanish DLI (with four sections of DLI per grade rather than the typical two).
PCSD values the DLI programs immensely. Martin Briggs said these are the top benefits of these programs, “Bilingualism, biliteracy, sociocultural competence, and (a huge plus for our multilingual learners of English) faster acquisition of the English language.” He also added, “As students can continue the program through high school, they can acquire university credits (depending on their future college of choice) through the AP test as soon as ninth grade, and then take 3000-level university credits (i.e., typically those taken by college juniors and seniors) in tenth through twelfth grade. Thus, they can potentially graduate from high school just a couple courses shy of a university minor in Spanish and/or French.”