We don’t want DLI programs to just simply exist. We want them to thrive, and, as I found in my research, a leader’s choices, their decisions, and their practices can really elevate everyone’s practice and build a community of respect and understanding and support for this program.
We want Dual Language Immersion (DLI) programs to thrive because these programs bring joy and positivity to individuals, giving them an unshakable positive identity that lifts the world.
In addition to the humane aspects, DLI programs set individuals up for opportunities and successes in jobs, careers, and family and community leadership.
These are not “nice thoughts.” These are research-based facts.
Those schools and educational entities that have seen DLI in action learn these are facts. Those workplaces – businesses, military, organizations of all kinds – that have seen the results know the positive impact of DLI in their workplaces and on their bottom lines.
The research is there. The lived results are there. Where the will is also there, there are also the joys and opportunities that only positive and secure identity and connections can give to humans.
But where there is not the will, there is loss.
Don’t let your family, community, organization, or place of work be among those who lose out. When you do, we all do. Language teaches us our connection.
See how languages, and specifically Dual Language Immersion, play a role in the very identity of the Glendale Unified School District: https://www.gusd.net/
Then explore what Glendale has to say about the nature and benefits of DLI (Dual Language Immersion), how sign ups and attendance work, and how to connect with Nancy Hong herself.
Learn more about the research, practice, and outcomes for learners of DLI nationwide by digging into Glendale’s research page, and by listening to my podcast #84 with Wayne Thomas and Virginia Collier. You can also find additional extensive research, DLI sharing tools, and excellent resource materials at their website, thomasandcollier.com .
Choose joy. Choose opportunity.
Enjoy the podcast.
Click to Listen
Nancy Hong’s bio and resources
Nancy Hong, Ed.D. is the Director of Dual Language Immersion and Magnet Programs in the Glendale Unified School District in Southern California where seven language options are offered: Armenian, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish. She has been a principal, professional learning consultant, and teacher and has previously taught in the Master of Education program at both Loyola Marymount University and the University of Southern California and in the Preliminary Administrative Services Credentialing Program with the Los Angeles County Office of Education. She has served on committees at the California Department of Education, one of which was to draft the 2019 California World Languages Standards. Dr. Hong received her Doctorate in Education from the University of Southern California where she wrote her dissertation on the principal’s role in dual language immersion programs. She is also the proud parent of children who have participated in dual programs and is an advocate for increasing access and opportunities for students to excel academically through language learning.
Want to hear more? Access previous episodes, and get to know the wonderful people I talk with through the It’s About Language page, or by clicking on the Podcast tab above. You can also find this week’s episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.
As a certified Gallup Strengths coach, I can provide you or your organization personalized coaching to discover and build on your strengths.
I provide workshops, presentations, and talks that inspire and engage through powerful language insights, and I pair those insights with practical applications for the lives of educators, learners, businesses, and faith-centered organizations. I’d love to share ideas with your organization or group, and develop an event tailored to your objectives.
0:00:05.7 Norah Jones: When we talk about the development of human beings, isn’t it a wonderful thing to be able to talk about both joy, and also the kind of practical opportunities that we call Steps to Success? Both joy, the emotion, and opportunity, which is related to the opening of doors for all. My guest this week, Nancy Hong, is Director of Dual Language Immersion and Magnet Programs in Glendale Unified School District in Southern California. When you listen to Nancy, listen to the skill that is dedicated to bringing this joy in opportunities to young people from kindergarten through 12th grade through language in the context of their lives and their opportunities. Enjoy this clear, powerful podcast and ask, “How is it that I can also advocate for, become engaged in, and support the kind of opportunities and joy that help to transform our society, through language?”
0:01:21.5 Norah Jones: You know, I love talking to folks that create, through their leadership, opportunities for, well, all learners, but especially some of the youngest and most accessible to the idea of language and culture in our educational community: young people, and it’s my pleasure then to welcome you, Nancy Hong, to this conversation.
0:01:46.4 Nancy Hong: Thank you for having me.
0:01:47.7 Norah Jones: Absolutely, it’s my pleasure, and I know it will be my listeners’ pleasure as well, as Director of Dual Language Immersion, and Magnet Programs in the Glendale Unified School District in Southern California, what excites you most about your position? There you are a director of dual language, especially I want to tap on that, but take me on any rabbit trail you like, what is exciting about what you do?
0:02:15.1 Nancy Hong: I have to say, I feel like one of the luckiest people in the world to have a job as unique as mine. I don’t know of another person professionally who gets to work with seven distinct language programs, all that begin in elementary school, and I get to walk this journey with my students throughout their schooling years with us, in middle school and in high school, I know many districts do offer dual immersion programs, which is incredibly exciting for us in the field, I like to see more programs emerge in many different districts, and I’m in touch with many of them as we partner together, network, and sometimes consult as districts are starting their programs from the ground up, but I have to say that it is truly exciting to be able to work with all of our teachers, in the programs, our families who are so passionate about this type of education for their children, as well as many of our community partners and government partners who also have a vested interest in ensuring that we succeed in promoting the language and culture or cultures of their country.
0:03:30.1 Norah Jones: What a powerful opener, because there are so many ways that… There’s both joy and benefit in what you’ve spoken about there, Nancy, let’s take a look at the flow of the program. In my own personal history, I have seen many types of programs, but I myself have been a family member of children that started in elementary school, and then the program stopped before middle school, it sounds like you have a sequence there, elementary, middle, high school. Can you speak about that continuum please?
0:04:08.9 Nancy Hong: Yes. I think this pathway is incredibly important for a district to have established, because when we have students come into our elementary programs, we want them and their families to understand that language learning takes many, many years to develop proficiency, and the proficiency that we want them to gain isn’t just conversational proficiency, but grade level proficiency across all the disciplines that they will come across in school. So students need time and they need practice and intentional study in all of those experiences throughout their years, and so we developed a pathway that students can take from elementary to middle to high school. Now, the program model does change when they get to middle school and to high school, their percentage of time in the target language is decreased, but in terms of the level of proficiency and the engagement in the classroom, it is meant to continue developing their language proficiency in all of the literacy domains.
0:05:09.2 Norah Jones: Have you seen a growth in understanding of those that are engaged both as educators within the system and those of the parents, the community, the businesses, that you have said already, look for an investment in this, has there been a change in attitude that has allowed you to place more emphasis on the continuation, more time and language throughout this, these years of study for your students.
0:05:42.0 Nancy Hong: It took many years for our district to get there, in terms of our larger district community, as in staff members and those others who work at our schools, to support all programs, within our district and also our larger parent community, those who are involved in the dual language program and those who are not, I think it’s really important that all educational partners understand the purpose of this program, and the needs of this program because there will be times that we will come across issues like decreased enrollment in a particular class, is it necessary to continue having a class like that offered to our students, and when there is a commitment from the Board of Education all the way down to those who support at the classroom level, it is vital that there are guarantees of coursework available so that students can actually meet the goals that we’ve set out for them, so it is very important, it has taken a lot of time for that understanding to be built among all of our community members, whether they work directly at the school, or they’re a parent in our district, they understand the purpose of these language programs.
0:07:03.2 Norah Jones: We had patients you have just expressed to us in that particular answer, thank you so much, Nancy. And what are the purposes? What is the purpose? However, you wish to frame that for these programs.
0:07:15.8 Nancy Hong: Sure, I think, like any other dual language program, there are three overarching goals for our students, one is to develop high levels of language proficiency in both English and the target language, and ensuring that students are reaching high levels in both, not one over the other, the other is achieving academically across all disciplines, and then the third, they’re not meaning the last priority, but it’s just the third pillar, is to develop sociocultural competence.
0:07:48.0 Norah Jones: Explain the sociocultural competence, please, for the listeners to make sure that they know how you see it integrated in the experience.
0:07:56.4 Nancy Hong: Sure, so it goes beyond just appreciating other cultures, and understanding how other cultures think and do things, but it’s also developing a competence to interact appropriately in those spaces, so when you are interacting with someone, having a conversation with someone, knowing what register to use, knowing what gestures are appropriate, what kind of language you might use in that situation, all of that speaks to interacting appropriately with socio-cultural competence. So that’s a little bit of it.
0:08:39.2 Norah Jones: Thank you very much, now, you said you have seven language options. Connect, how you see the accessibility, the desire for these languages, after you identify them, if you would, please, and how that connects to people understanding the way that different cultures work, how that might even be integrated in what you do, as a district, all together that you have these seven and not just say one?
0:09:09.9 Nancy Hong: Right, so our seven languages are Armenian, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish. And I can say that the three programs that really reflect the language of the community, or the languages of our district community, are Armenian, Korean, and Spanish, those three are the largest programs we have, but we also have our other language programs, which are Japanese, Italian, German, and French, and they are equally as devoted, the families and the students are equally devoted to their language of study as our other language programs. I have to say that, it’s really amazing to have this level of choice within one district, we are a district of just under 25,000, so we’re not a huge district, and yet to have 20% of our students in a language program is pretty amazing. And there is a high value placed on this type of education for children in this district, parents seek us out, they seek us out intentionally, whether they live within our district, or outside of our district borders, I often get inquiries about families wanting to join our program or wanting to learn more, because there is a reputation that we have for having high quality programs in dual immersion education, and I think the reasons are many, why parents seek us out.
0:11:01.4 Nancy Hong: I think sometimes it’s because they themselves speak the language and share the culture, they wanna share that and give their children that opportunity as well, sometimes it’s to build those family connections because they have other relatives in the family who may only speak a particular language, and they want to make sure that generations have a bridge to each other, other times it’s just really to expand the student’s learning opportunity and give them a wide variety of pathways for the future, so there may not be a direct connection, a personal connection to a language, but want to set up their child for lots of options in the future for study or for job opportunities.
0:11:49.8 Norah Jones: There’s two streams there, the kind of, if I may say it, poorly, but just to say, kind of, looking back or looking personal and then looking forward, looking at opportunities, and when you speak about those that see opportunities through language, and you spoke, again, as you referred to, about the community members and the businesses that feel that there is an investment here and opportunities for young people, what is special do you see with your background and expertise as those opportunities that such a program that you have helped to bring about?
0:12:30.4 Nancy Hong: Well, I think more and more, as we look at even job postings for various fields, there is always a desire for multilingual applicants, because their client base, or their business partnerships reach a global audience, or a multilingual audience, even if it’s relatively local. So I think it’s always an advantage for someone to be able to speak to many different communities, and culturally too, knowing how to interact in those spaces is also very important, so it’s an asset that I see, for anybody, no matter what field of study they go into, no matter what industry they work in in the future, it’s no longer limited to just translations and interpretations that they want multilingual employees, they… I think a lot of industries are looking for those who can conduct business, they might be in journalism, they might be in finance, engineering, what have you, being multilingual is an asset in any regard.
0:13:46.8 Norah Jones: You, Nancy, have come, and are in your position with a wide experience in various portions of education, as a teacher, as a professional learning consultant, as a principal, now as the director in Glendale Unified. When you tell the stories that have helped to move over these years, to create the support, that allows these programs to not only exist, but to be considered to be, not to be broken apart under times of stress, what are some of the ways that you express those experiences that you’ve had that help people to understand why this is a critical part of education and opportunity.
0:14:43.6 Nancy Hong: I could point to so many, but let me just lead off by saying that, students in our program succeed, and that success isn’t just measured in terms of academic success, they certainly do well on state testing as well as overall in school, students in our dual language programs tend to be, are high learners and those who are most engaged in school, so that is a huge plus in and of itself, but I think other than that, and more importantly, students have a sense of belonging and their identity is validated, as they see themselves in the culture that’s reflected in the program, and what they’re learning about. When I was growing up, I didn’t have the benefit of being in a dual language program and, gosh, if I had the opportunity, I think my sense of self as a young child as well as maybe my trajectory in terms of study and the opportunities that I would have taken, and maybe the job that I would have, may be different, because I would have continued learning my home language, which is Korean, in school, instead of only having the opportunity to learn it outside of school, and I think that my relationship with my family would be a lot different had I had those opportunities, so I think for our students today, when they are in a language program, it validates who they are, it allows them to embrace all parts of themselves, as they bring their whole selves to the school environment.
0:16:31.9 Nancy Hong: But also be academically challenged, and not limited in any way, simply because they might bring a different home language to the school environment.
0:16:40.1 S3: This podcast with my guest, Nancy Hong, is supported in part by Avant Assessment, and Avant Assessment has partnered with me as a consultant to find and bring to you leaders in language and cultural education and use. Leaders that can help to show us the pathway to the joy and opportunity of language. Thank you Avant Assessment for your work in providing assessments that demonstrates skill and hope in language, and for bringing those opportunities all around the world to those that are excited to make use of language and culture in their lives.
0:17:27.7 Norah Jones: So Nancy, let’s take a look at that statement that you made about proficiency in English and another language, is that like reassuring for some of the people that you have been working with as you’ve been speaking about the program, that this is not designed to supplant English or create problems for those that might be English language learners, talk about the role of having that clearly as one of the goals, English and at least one other language.
0:17:58.2 Nancy Hong: Yes, I want all of your listeners to understand that dual language is an asset-based model, it’s additive and not subtractive language, it’s really important to acknowledge that we want to honor a student’s first language or home language when they come into a dual language classroom and continue to develop that and build on that so that they can continue developing cognitively in their first language, but as they’re doing that also add on that second language, so the second language will build upon the foundation that we established with the first language, and that’s really important to acknowledge. A student will not be confused, a student will not mis-learn another language, just because they are simultaneously developing in two languages.
0:18:50.4 Norah Jones: Have you… Thank you. Have you found that there is a misunderstanding of how language works in that way? We’re using the phrase additive, seems to be still a surprise moment for so many who do not understand language acquisition. But perhaps I’m overstating it. Has there been an issue with people understanding what you have just said so that they understand that students of all languages are being honored?
0:19:18.0 Nancy Hong: I think some folks come in when they’re researching our program or trying to get some more information about our program with this understanding that it could possibly confuse students when they’re learning through two different languages. How will they keep everything straight in their heads? How will they understand what this teacher is saying when my child has no exposure to this other language that I sort of want them to learn? There’s a little bit of skepticism, I would say. There’s also a little bit of fear depending on what the parents own experiences were in school and the language experiences that they bring. Some were a little traumatized with the fact that they didn’t get the opportunity to continue learning their home language and seeing their home language as something to be embraced and be proud of, rather than a deficit coming into the school environment. So for some families like that, they’re really wondering if their child will attain a high level of English while they still learn their home language. And I wanna assure every family, absolutely, this is the best thing that you can do for your child to allow them to continue growing in their home language in an academic setting, as they acquire English and develop high proficiency in English.
0:20:42.5 Norah Jones: You put so much blood and spirit into what can be considered and often ends up feeling like a cold academic question. There’s so much having to do with identity, with potential trauma, with disappointment, as well as with eagerness and opportunity. Do you have particular stories that you tell, examples that you give that help to put the face on this understanding of what happens in multiple language learning simultaneously?
0:21:22.5 Nancy Hong: Well, I can say, I can’t think of one particular story to tell, but something that we do in our district is we provide a district-wide newsletter for our dual language programs, and it comes out two or three times a year to our larger community. And what it does is highlight what students are learning or experiencing in the program or any special events that happen. And I have to say that the recurring theme in all of the stories or highlights or features we have in that newsletter is a great sense of joy and a great sense of pride in the learning that they have in what they’re accomplishing so far. Even our young students who are relatively new to the program have an immense sense of joy when they come to school. And the parents are just beaming with pride to see their children develop in two languages and also have these cultural experiences. Those are things that… Opportunities that were never afforded to them. And I think that it does have such a special place within a traditional educational setting.
0:22:37.5 Norah Jones: Thank you for that. And I’m going to ask a question that may seem a little harsh when I first ask it, so I hope you’ll forgive me, by providing the insights that we all need. Despite the joy that you just spoke about, despite the parent’s delight and the children’s delight, sometimes folks think, well, that’s very nice, but when we get down to when money is tight, when we’re in competition, that languages still are sort of peripheral. How do you demonstrate to those that might be might need more than just the humanity, if I can put it that way, again, it’s a little harsh, forgive me, but that might need a little bit more than that. How do you demonstrate that these outcomes for students are providing them with the kind of academic performance, the kind of opportunities that education is in place for in general, that language is not just a frill on the side, but can be central if that’s in fact what you do.
0:23:47.1 Nancy Hong: Right. Well, you know I wanna say that I know that the emphasis in a Dual Language Immersion program may be on the word language, and that certainly is a major component of being in a program like this is to learn language or languages. But that’s not the only thing. A dual language education is core education. So students are learning through all the different subject areas. And I would have to underscore the fact that being in a Dual Immersion Program really meets all of the goals that a school district may have. Meaning you want your students to show up to school and have good attendance. You want them to be engaged, you want the families to be engaged in the school environment. You want students to have positive academic outcomes. You want them to be growing in a social emotional, healthy way.
0:24:41.7 Nancy Hong: All of those aspects of what we want students to experience throughout schooling can be achieved and is achieved in a dual language educational environment. So I would really emphasize how positively impactful a dual language program can be to a school or district community. And the other side of it too is fiscal oftentimes families are seeking out a dual language education on purpose, and sometimes they’ll leave their home districts because they don’t offer such a program. So we have been able to boost our enrollment in many of our language programs because families outside of our district are purposely seeking out this opportunity. [laughter]
0:25:30.4 Norah Jones: That’s a phenomenal statement there, and so important for those that are in leadership. Absolutely. So Nancy, then you said that you work with and network with and help in your role and in with your background in being able to share these things at a consultative manner with other districts and other school systems that are taking a look at dual language. What are some of the experiences that they’re having that you helped to deal with? What impact is happening? What’s the trend?
0:26:04.9 Nancy Hong: Well, it’s very interesting, I have to say in an informal capacity I do get a lot of inquiries from neighboring districts in the Southern California area who wish to visit our programs and also to speak with me as somebody who heads these programs for my district, some of the burning questions that they have in terms of how to start it, what do we need to consider in planning, what are some staffing considerations, etcetera. So we run the gamut of covering all of those different aspects of starting or actually implementing a program. In a formal capacity I also do work with the Los Angeles County Office of Education, and we do offer professional development for district leaders as well as teachers who want to learn a little bit more about a Dual Language Immersion model and the considerations for the classroom in terms of instruction, as well as from a program perspective, what needs to be in place to support a high quality program.
0:27:14.7 Nancy Hong: So some of the questions arise about how do you recruit students? How do you recruit teachers? Where do you get curriculum? How do you develop the curriculum if it’s not readily available for purchase? All different kinds of questions, but I have to say that a lot of districts, it’s a two-pronged approach in terms of why they’re starting a program. One they really see the need in their own districts. There’s an emerging need on a grassroots level that families really want this type of education for their children. And so it’s, it is kind of coming to the surface for a lot of the district leadership to consider starting a program like this because parents are getting wind of the fact that this is a powerful educational model. The other reason I have to say is because they some districts are losing their students to other districts who have a model in place, and it’s an enrollment matter. They don’t wanna lose students to their neighbors because they don’t have such a program. So it’s a bit of both.
0:28:28.0 Norah Jones: I can well imagine, it seems to me that the personnel aspect would be a big challenge. Help me to discover if that’s true, and what some of the challenges are that those that are considering programs especially ask you about and what you tell them with regard to how they can help to plan and develop a Dual Language Immersion system?
0:28:54.9 Nancy Hong: I think the one thing I could definitely say is start early, especially with the recruitment of one’s founding teacher. That first teacher truly is a crucial hire in the process because not only will that first teacher lay the groundwork for the program, but every teacher that comes after that first teacher is going to kind of build upon the practices of that first teacher, the tone that the first teacher sets. So start early and really be considerate when hiring that first teacher for the Dual Immersion Program. Also, I would say that every teacher is also an advocate for the program. They’re not just coming in to teach content and the language and walking away. They are representatives of a specialized education, and they need to be equally passionate about it and understand and believe that it works, and it is a great model for students. So all of those aspects are really important, but I wanna underscore the fact that it is very challenging to find highly qualified teachers who meet the language proficiency requirements, but also who have strong pedagogical skills. And it does take a beautiful blend of both to have a strong dual language teacher in our programs.
0:30:22.4 Norah Jones: Do you have any specific suggestions about how to go about finding such people? Are there pathways that sometimes folks leave untapped?
0:30:30.0 Nancy Hong: Certainly districts can utilize the traditional job posting sites for educators. That works at times, but that shouldn’t be the only avenue for us. In my district, we try to access all of our network and our partners to amplify the need for teachers if we’re in need of a particular position. So to work within your network, even your parent network, to see if they might know of anybody looking for a teaching position. I often also work with university partners in our area, and I’ve had a couple of instances where we were able to hire teachers because of a relationship that I already had established with the local university. So I think just really looking at every resource around you as your partners to be able to recruit the strongest candidates is really important.
0:31:32.8 Norah Jones: That’s very nice pathways. Thank you for describing that. You know, earlier you mentioned that you yourself are of Korean heritage and that you yourself did not really participate in a dual language experience when you were younger, as you might have liked. Do you have family? Correct. And you’ve advocated within your family, [laughter] Can you tell us about what your experience then is as a parent with regard to these programs and their impact?
0:32:05.1 Nancy Hong: Yes, absolutely. So actually before I took on this position, my present position, I was employed in another school district as an administrator. And it was during that time that my oldest child, who’s now a senior in high school we were looking for an elementary program for him, and one option could have been to come to my district where I was at the time, to have him enroll there. And that would’ve been very convenient for me and maybe for him. But we did look into dual language options and I came to my present district as a parent first because I enrolled my child and my second child afterwards in the Korean Dual Language Immersion Program. And the amazing things that I have learned through them and their experience has truly been eye-opening and so valuable for our family as a whole. So even though I didn’t have such an opportunity to be in a program like this, I felt like I was able to live through that opportunity through my children.
0:33:16.0 Norah Jones: Can you share a family story of one, some of the amazing things that you’ve experienced that have just brought such joy to your voice even in telling that story?
0:33:27.2 Nancy Hong: I can tell you that there was one year, so the Korean Dual Immersion School where my children were enrolled in an elementary school was also a Visual and Performing Arts Magnet School. So they not only had the benefit of learning another language, they had the benefit of having an amazing experience with the arts within that education. It’s a phenomenal school. And one year they… My younger son was doing a Mother’s Day performance with his class, and they did a couple of songs and a little skit all in Korean. And I have to say that they sang a song about a mother’s love in Korean, and there was not a dry eye in the room because just the song itself was incredibly tender and sweet, but hearing it in your home language just hits another tone altogether.
0:34:29.4 Norah Jones: Touches the heart. It’s nothing like the home language to do that. Thank you so much for sharing that story. I appreciate it. Nancy, you have an educational doctorate with a dissertation that caught my eye on the principal’s role in dual language programs. There’s so many leadership stages here with regard to how programs get established. What did you discover in your dissertation about the principal’s role in Dual Language Immersion programs? How has that had an impact on your work?
0:35:07.6 Nancy Hong: I think leadership is absolutely crucial. Of course, the teacher is what the person who is most crucial in a child’s education, but second to that is the leader. And I really do believe in my practice as well as found in my research, that the leader can really impact and make or break the success of a program. So we don’t want programs to just simply exist. We want them to thrive, and a leader’s choices, their decisions, their practices can really elevate everyone’s practice and build a community of respect and understanding and support for this program. Or it can do the opposite. It can cause a lot of harm if it goes neglected and not attended to. So I would say that the leader’s role is absolutely important, not just to be a strong leader in general, but to also understand what a dual language education entails, how to work with families, and especially as many programs exist as a strand within a larger traditional school, to understand how to bridge the two programs, the traditional English program with the Dual Immersion Program. So it feels like one big school community and not two smaller schools within a building. That’s really important too.
0:36:39.4 Norah Jones: That’s huge. What kinds of resources do you provide? Where do you send folks that are taking a look at this by folks? I should be more specific. Where do you send principals [laughter] that are looking at these things or who had questions about it or have been challenged about it? Where do you make sure that they can get that information? That’s very subtle behavioral items as well there.
0:37:05.6 Nancy Hong: Well, a couple of different things I have to say, I have the benefit of working with a very strong team of principals, and many of them have been in their settings for quite a while. They do of course look at documents like the guiding principles for dual language education, which is extremely helpful for anybody who is looking to start a program or even to see how they can improve their program. It’s a document that I go back to time and time again to make sure that we’re on the right track and doing all the best that we can. We have a network of colleagues that we access. So at times, whether it’s in discussion and conversation with myself or as a small team, if we share the same language we utilize each other as resources. Some of our principals do go to conferences focused on language to get a little bit more in-depth information. And then also to read books that are pertinent to their practice.
0:38:14.4 Norah Jones: That’s wonderful. And there… Principals district supervisors, superintendents and so forth look at data. What is there a role for data in the Dual Language Immersion Program overall? Be it in the language, the content area? Both?
0:38:42.2 Nancy Hong: All of the above. I say what is measured is what is valued, and it’s important that we are measuring the student’s development in the target language as well as the student’s development in English and overall academics. So absolutely, we use data not only to understand what our students are learning and how they have attained certain skills and standards, but also to inform our instruction so that we can use it as information to better our practice.
0:39:17.1 Norah Jones: Have you seen changes in the approach of instruction in Dual Language Immersion here in the last, say, five or 10 years?
0:39:26.0 Nancy Hong: I would say that if there’s anything, there has been more of an emphasis on making sure that students are highly engaged, not just with the teacher, but highly engaged with one another, and to really utilize the assets, again, the assets that every student brings into the classroom to maximize opportunities for practice. So that’s really an important component in our program, we have a two-way dual language model so that students have the opportunity to be language models for each other and be a language learner in another part of the day. So the practice opportunities and the ability to learn language doesn’t just come from the teacher, it also comes from one another. And I think maximizing the opportunities for students to interact meaningfully with each other has been a positive trend that I’ve been seeing.
0:40:22.5 Norah Jones: Sounds extraordinarily powerful and empowering for the individual students. Let me ask you, you have used the particular phrase of a two-way, and many of the listeners will be familiar with Dual Language Immersion configurations. But can you, for those that are listening and thinking, this is something I need to be promoting and advocating in my educational area, can you talk about the Dual Language Immersion types formats and briefly anyway, the sort of the strengths of each or the opportunities for each?
0:41:02.8 Nancy Hong: Sure. So there is the two-way, dual language model, as opposed to the one-way dual immersion model. And the difference between the two is that in a two-way model, you have two different linguistic groups. They come from, let’s say an English background and the target language background, and they’re each trying to attain the others language in a one-way model. All of the students belong to one linguistic group, let’s say English, and they all want to attain that other language or the target language, so they’re all moving in the same direction, whereas in a two-way, they’re going in opposite directions. So both of them can be very effective. But I have to say that if you are able to have a two-way model it is extremely beneficial for the students because they have others in the classroom other than the teacher being a language model for them. So increased opportunities for practice and just hearing how the language is utilized by the peers in the class.
0:42:07.6 Norah Jones: Utilized by the peers. And when we hear our peers, then we know it’s even more real than the teacher says. No question. What is your hope, personally, your dream for Dual Language Immersion’s future here, both the near future and potentially the far future in your area in this country of the United States and beyond?
0:42:30.5 Nancy Hong: Well, if I can dream really big, I would love to see dual language as the only model for language education, or not just language education for a student’s experience in school. So in my district, dual language falls under a specialized program, and I don’t want it to be so specialized. I want it to be mainstream, really just the default pathway for all, because I think learning a language is so powerful and this language or this educational model is so powerful for all students that I would love to see it as a non-choice program. You just go into it.
0:43:10.5 Norah Jones: Just have it happen. That’s your educational experience, which happens around the world. When you think about what you see in other nations and their programs, do you see opportunities there for things that the United States can learn to come into that model of it just happens?
0:43:34.6 Nancy Hong: We’re getting there. I think that again, dual language is building traction and many more districts around the country are seeing its power as well as its effectiveness. So we’re getting there. It’s just not as fast of a process as many folks like me would like, but I do see that many folks in education do look to other countries and their models of how and when they introduce language to students. And it’s just how it is. Students in elementary school all take a language, and it may not be a dual language model, but they still take on a language other than their home language early on in elementary. And then by the time they’re in middle school, they might already have a third language of study or even a fourth language of study. And I think we are getting there as a country, but the… It’s not quite mainstream yet. So what I would love to see is I would love to see language as not just an enrichment opportunity, but really an educational opportunity afforded to all.
0:44:47.0 Norah Jones: Thank you very much for saying that. So specifically, because it does become an issue for society as a whole, Nancy, you have provided so many insights, so many directions that we’ve gone then answered. Thank you very much, my questions with such clarity. Is there something that before we leave today, that you’re like, “oh, I just have to say this, or I have to emphasize this.” What final message would you like to make sure that the listeners have from our conversation today with you?
0:45:24.3 Nancy Hong: I think something that I think about almost on a daily basis as an educator, but especially an educator in this specific work, is that we are in the business of building human beings, and we want these human beings to contribute positively to the world. And I don’t know how one can do all of those things when you might be limited to only one language. I think that if we really wanna propel our students to make a difference in the larger global world we need to give them all the tools that we can so that they are able to do that in any space they find themselves in. So when I look at our kindergartners, our third graders, our seventh graders, our 10th graders these are future citizens of our world. And I hope that the way we can provide opportunities for them in a meaningful way when they’re with us, can prepare them to be those amazing global citizens that will contribute positively in to their futures.
0:46:34.5 Norah Jones: Beautifully said, and such a worthy, worthy goal. Thank you so much, Nancy Hong, for everything that you’ve provided today in this conversation.
0:46:43.4 Nancy Hong: Thank you, Norah. It was a pleasure.
0:46:46.1 Norah Jones: I hope you enjoyed this podcast with my guest, Nancy Hong, and I hope that you will take a look at where in your life you can support the kinds of opportunities and joy that she spoke about. We can do this, and we must do this for the wellbeing and the future of our global community. Thank you for listening, and until next time.