This month, C&I's Diane Tedick, Associate Professor in Second Languages and Cultures, has been tapped by a California community for her expertise in dual language and immersion education. A group of parents and educators in Orange County's Little Saigon neighborhood are advocating for the state's first Vietnamese-English dual immersion program. Tedick supports this kind of initiative citing powerful benefits of biliteracy including better performance in English, as well as other subjects.
However, not everyone in the community sees the proposal for a Vietnamese-English immersion program in a favorable light. In May, Jim Tortolano, a journalist in California, and editor and publisher of the Garden Grove Journal, posted an editorial on the possible political reasons for pursuing a Vietnamese-English dual immersion program. In an article titled "Jim Tortolano's Retorts: 'Immersion' or segregation?", he expresses skepticism for the educational benefits of immersion programs and some reservations for the cost.
He questions, "And where does it all end? Will we have immersion programs in Spanish, Korean and Arabic soon after? I suppose we will if the votes are there, regardless of the absence of any apparent educational benefit. What, also, about the cost? You'd have to buy books in every subject in the foreign language. Are there many calculus or U.S. history textbooks in Vietnamese? Can we afford to hire dozens, perhaps hundreds of teachers because they have that fluency?"
This month, Tedick authored a response to Tortolano's concerns and addressed some misinformed beliefs commonly held about immersion programs. In "Immersion programs are a good idea" Tedick states: "In high quality two-way programs, ELs achieve at levels that are comparable or superior to their [English Learner] peers' in the same school district and state. In fact, ELs who attend two-way programs and are eventually reclassified by state criteria as proficient in English on average tend to do even better than native English speakers being schooled only in English on measures of reading/language arts and math achievement. Two-way programs are the most effective program model we have today when it comes to teaching ELs."
Tedick also addresses concerns over cost, cultural assimilation and segregation. Read Diane Tedick's full editorial at ggjournal.com.