UNT professor finds dual language incentive not widely used

Monday, August 8, 2016 - 21:05

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- A University of North Texas education professor's research revealed new insight into a state program aimed at encouraging students to learn multiple languages. The Seal of Biliteracy is an award given to students who prove they have attained proficiency in two or more languages by the time they graduate high school.

The program was signed into Texas law in 2013, but it is voluntary for school districts. UNT assistant professor of bilingual and ESL education Ricardo Gonzalez-Carriedo and former doctoral student Alexandra Babino worked together to see how beneficial the program was to students in the North Texas region.

"We really wanted to see if this program can motive students," said Gonzalez-Carriedo. "We want proof to show us if it is working or not and if it works, we can use our study to encourage schools to participate."

After calling school districts all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the researchers discovered only a single school district in the area used the Seal of Biliteracy. That district, under a condition of anonymity, agreed to work with the researchers, who recruited three students from the district. The students said they found it confusing, but that participating in the bilingual program did push them to excel in the classroom.

"The students told us that their dual language teachers set high expectations," said Gonzalez-Carriedo. "They felt they needed to do better in school because they were given the chance to be part of this program."

The professor says that while this is a small study, he hopes it shows that the Seal of Biliteracy can have a positive impact and that more school districts will participate. The research will be published as part of the book that they expect to be released in Spring 2017.

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