Dual Language SchoolsStarting a Dual Language State Network An Interview with MODLAN

Author Photo: Dr. Lisa Dorner

By: Dr. Lisa Dorner

Co-founder of the Missouri Dual Language Network, an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis and a Faculty Fellow of the Cambio Center at the University of Missouri-Columbia

In the organizational stages of MODLAN, Lisa and Kim first set out to determine who were the stakeholders (key educators interested in dual language education in Missouri), then, hold conversations with them, and design their mission/vision. They encountered time and resources as the most difficult challenge they faced during implementation.

They work to include the community on their mission and updates about MODLAN by utilizing social media. Given their connection to some language immersion schools, they are friends and colleagues with many parents and teachers. They are the ones who spread the word about MODLAN most quickly and developed their network online. This is important to understand about your community, make connections with whom your network will most benefit, and the network will then expand organically over time.

MODLAN is continuing to work with their colleagues at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to provide professional development about dual language education (What is it? How can we start a program?), and to spread the word about their state's new Seal of Biliteracy. When asked what they would advice for other programs interested in starting a dual network, they responded:

Gather together at professional teacher organizations or local conferences where there are stakeholders interested in multilingualism and dual language education. Ask some colleagues to join you for coffee or tea! Talk about what issues are important to them, and see where you all have common ground. Brainstorm a mission and vision statement. Open social media accounts to provide more information to the public. And so on!

Lisa and Kim believe that the network will continue to change over the years. With more interest, there may be more opportunities for funding, and thus more opportunities for them to provide support and professional development to school districts and interested educators. They would love to discuss how to apply for funding to host local conferences and professional development for educators and community members. They would also be interested in working with other networks to advocate for multilingualism and against anti-immigrant and anti-multilingual biases in our communities. To start the conversation: Use Our Forum (click here)