Dual Language SchoolsThe Whittier School District and their Quest to Understand Translanguaging An Interview with the CABE Seal of Excellence School

02/2019
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Image for Article: The Phelan Language Academy and their Quest to Understand Translanguaging

This month, DualLanguageSchools.org set out on a quest to further understand translanguaging and provide research on either side of the concept. We were pleased to learn about a recent grant that the Whittier City School District received for their research on translanguaging. We conducted an interview with them to provide further information to the discussion.

The Whittier School District is a small K-8 district with only 11 schools. 8 elementary, 2 middle schools and 1 K-8 school. Their Dual Immersion Program began at Phelan Language Academy six years ago. Since it's opening, all stakeholders have created a well-established, award-winning dual language program. The 2018-2019 school year brought new beginnings for two of their neighboring schools with the expansion of the Dual Immersion Program. The first graduating class from Phelan Language Academy has begun at Katherine Edwards Middle School, and a sister school, West Whittier Elementary, opened its doors with one TK and one Kindergarten DI classroom each.

The grant came about as a possibility as the Whittier City School has had a long-standing relationship with the Cotsen Foundation for the Art of Teaching for over a decade. The mission of the Cotsen Foundation for the ART of TEACHING is to transform good teachers into great teachers. This transformation occurs through a program in which proven educators receive coaching and mentoring to achieve the highest levels of teaching excellence.

Cotsen alumni can continue learning with Cotsen study grants. Karla Palomino, Cotsen fellow alumna and Dual Immersion Instructional Coach, took advantage of this opportunity. She surveyed the elementary school Dual Immersion teachers to see who would like to take part in a book study, and all agreed. Karla wrote the $6,000 grant to purchase two books on translanguaging per teacher, including The Translanguaging Classroom: Leveraging Student Bilingualism for Learning by García, Ibarra Johnson, and Seltzer; as well as additional money to grow classroom libraries.

We first learned about the term translanguaging last summer, as our Dual Immersion Curriculum Improvement Team met. Dual Language teachers collaborated in a week-long professional development opportunity around the research and Guiding Principles of Dual Language Education. Through this learning, we encountered the topic of translanguaging. It is the notion that learning a different language does not happen in isolation, rather, the ability to access different linguistic features in order to maximize communicative potential. – Karla Palomino, Dual Immersion Instructional Coach, Whittier School Districts

Continue reading to learn more about Whittier School District's translanguaging research grant…

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