Dual Language Presentation At The Learning Corridor

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On Saturday morning, April 13th, members of the Hartford community congregated together at the Learning Corridor to listen to various Connecticut educators discuss the merits of creating a dual-language magnet school in Hartford.  At the beginning of the discussion, Trinity College Professor Andrea Dyrness shared a story with community members that illustrated the negative perception that exists within mainstream American culture concerning bilingual education in schools.  She said that when her daughter enrolled in the Hartford school district, educators were immediately alarmed upon finding out that both English and Spanish were spoken in the Dyrness household.  The school district asked, “Will you daughter need special attention?” While Professor Dyrness thought that the bilingual education her daughter had received at home would be viewed as a strength in the eyes of Hartford educators, it instead, was viewed as a weakness.  But how could this be?  It is this very question that has driven Professor Dyrness and other local educators to push for the creation of dual-language magnet school in Hartford, a school where bilingualism would be openly celebrated, not flat-out disregarded.   Under the conditions of a dual-language school, native English and Spanish speakers would be integrated into an educational program where at least fifty percent of the curriculum would be covered in Spanish.  Presenters stressed that the positive effects of a dual-language system can generally be identified once a Kindergarten class makes its way up to Fifth grade, so a commitment to the long term is imperative.   Not only would students benefit from learning multiple languages and developing an appreciation for differing cultures, but studies have shown that it would also prepare students better for the jobs that lie ahead in our interconnected world.   The presenters and advocates for a bilingual magnet school in Hartford concluded their discussion by challenging the community members in attendance to garner as much support from other citizens as possible, which would put deliberate pressure on the Hartford Board of Education to vote in favor of a dual-language magnet school.