Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce encouraging bilingual education earned committee approval today. The bill (A4318) establishes grant programs for public and charter schools to develop dual language immersion programs, and passed the Assembly Education Committee with a 10-0 vote.
“The world is changing, and for many people, speaking one language, even English, is not enough,” said DeCroce (R-Morris). “Our communities are becoming more multicultural and the business world is being effected by foreign corporations as partners or competitors. In the global marketplace, multilingual skills will be invaluable. This will help our schools keep pace.”
The commissioner of education will establish standards for a dual language immersion program under DeCroce’s legislation. The program will provide grants to school districts and charters to develop immersion programs in Chinese, Spanish, French and other languages as approved by the education department. The immersion programs, which will start in kindergarten or first grade, require half the instruction in English, and half in the immersion language.
“Immersion programs across the country have an impressive track record,” DeCroce said. “Students develop sold second-language proficiency and improved academic performance. Leaning a new language promotes understanding, respect and empathy among children from different cultures, backgrounds and heritage.”
There are more than 2,000 bilingual immersion programs in schools in the United States.