The city plans to open 29 new dual language programs in elementary, middle and high schools in September, according to alist of new programs released by the Department of Education. New York City’s public school students speak over 185 languages at home, as reported in the city’s recent Internal Budget Office audit of city schools, and there are dual language programs in at least a half-dozen of those languages.
Dual language programs offer English speakers the opportunity to learn a second language alongside native speakers of another language who become proficient in both English and their native tongue. Ten percent of the city’s more than 150,000 English language learners were in dual language programs in 2011, according to the IBO.
Spanish is the second-most common language spoken at home — nearly a quarter of New Yorkers are native Spanish speakers — and many of the city’s new and established dual language programs are in Spanish. But the programs opening this fall will expand the city’s dual language offerings to include three languages not offered previously in elementary school. The Polish enclave of Greenpoint, Brooklyn will get a Polish dual language program at PS 34 Oliver H. Perry; PS 214 in East New York will open a Bengali program; and PS/IS 30 Mary White Ovington in Bay Ridge will start an Arabic program. A handful of new Chinese programs are in the works for the fall, as well.
Fewer than one percent of New Yorkers speak French at home, according to the IBO report, but interest in learning the language seems to be growing. Three French dual language programs will open, two in middle schools: MS 256 on the Upper West Side and MS 51 in Park Slope, and one in a Fort Greene elementary school — at PS 20.
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