Education Professors Conducted Research on the Effects of Dual Language Immersion Programs on Student Attitudes Toward Multiculturalism

Professors’ research shows Dual Language Immersion programs in schools help students grasp a better understanding of both another language and its culture

Oct. 14, 2019 By Sarah Dougher

Biola University School of Education professors Nicholas Block and Lorena Vidaurre recently published research on Dual Language Immersion (DLI) programs in schools and the effects they have on younger students and their attitudes toward learning another language and their receptiveness of interacting with another culture.

 

Block’s initial interest in studying the effects of DLI programs on students’ outlooks on multicultural environments came from being passionate about students “developing positive attitudes toward those different than them.”

 

In the many years Block has spent time researching student behavior, he said that it is a “neglected field of research,” and DLI programs are an effective way to broaden students’ perspectives.

 

Block and Vidaurre’s research was questionnaire-based, asking students questions such as “Do you like to play with other kids no matter what language they speak?” to get an idea if students who spoke one language were open to learning, or at least interacting closely with another language.

 

According to Block, there has been research conducted in the past with students in upper elementary grades, which prompted Block and Vidaurre to perform their research on younger grades to see if there were any differences in results due to age. Being a teacher himself aided Block in interpreting the pair’s research because he was familiar with student behaviors and tendencies. They found that age did not make much of a difference in behaviors.

 

DLI programs have been around for 30 years, but they have become more popular in the past 5 to 10, becoming common in California and Utah, according to Block.

 

“I hope that teachers and parents will begin to value DLI programs not just for their impact on students' academic achievement, but also because children's intercultural attitudes in these programs are more positive,” said Block. “I would hope that just the interest in itself in children's attitudes towards others different from themselves will spark concern for this important aspect of young people's development.”

 

DLI programs are difficult to maintain through high school. Courses such as AP Spanish start taking precedent, and students choose whether they want to continue their study of the language beyond their secondary schooling. However, the goal of DLI programs is to implement positive attitudes in young children about bilingualism and to normalize multiculturalism. Parents choose to enroll their child in DLI, and therefore provide the necessary moral support for their student to learn a language they do not speak at home, according to Block.

 

DLI programs are far from being the only methods by which bilingualism and biculturalism could be preserved and celebrated in society. Block shared a few more ways that people could become acquainted with cultures different than their own, such as alternative language churches.

 

It is important for Christians to “care about the health of alternative language churches and their congregations, to encourage students who are non-native speakers of English that they, their language, and their culture are valuable and that even though they are in school to learn English, they should keep speaking their native language at home and with family. Christians should also model positive attitudes toward immigrants and toward diverse cultures in society,” said Block.

 

DLI programs are a big step toward society being more accepting of other cultures and their languages. Block said that “there is great value in these programs to affirm [positive] home values” and are discovered to create “healthy multicultural development for young children.”

 

Read Block and Vidaurre’s research to learn more about their work. Block’s and Vidaurre’s two-year research culmination came to conclusion by being published on May 30, 2019 in Volume 42, Issue 2 of the “Bilingual Research Journal.”

 

Written by Sarah Dougher, iBiola Reporter intern. For more information, contact Jenna Loumagne, assistant director of media relations and strategic communications, at (562) 777-4061 or jenna.loumagne@biola.edu.

 

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