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Kim Potowski: Maximizing Latino Spanish proficiency through dual language education
March 17, 2016 @ 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm
ARC Seminar: Kim Potowski: Maximizing Latino Spanish proficiency through dual language education
Public school programs called dual language use Spanish between 50% to 90% of the school day with the goal of promoting bilingualism and biliteracy. In this project, I examine the Spanish speaking, reading, writing, and listening comprehension of two groups of bilingual Latino children in Chicago: one attending a dual language program, and one in an English-medium program in the same building. Initial analyses show that Spanish proficiency declines greatly among the English-schooled students, but not among the dual language students. In addition, both English proficiency and overall academic achievement as measured by standardized exams are stronger among dual language students once they reach 5th grade. These findings suggest that Spanish-medium education can help close the national Latino achievement gap while promoting strong levels of bilingualism among Latinos and non-Latinos alike.
Kim Potowski is Associate Professor of Spanish linguistics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she directs the Spanish for Bilinguals program. Her research focuses on Spanish in the United States, including factors that influence intergenerational language transmission and change as well as connections between language and ethnic identity. Her interest in the role of dual language education in promoting bilingualism and academic achievement among Latino youth was the focus of her 2013 TEDx talk. She has (co)-authored or edited several books including Heritage language teaching: Research and practice (2014), Language and identity in a dual immersion school (2007), Language diversity in the USA(2011), Bilingual youth: Spanish in English-speaking societies(2008) and El español de los Estados Unidos (2015). She has also authored two college Spanish textbooks, one for beginners and another focusing on academic argument texts for heritage speakers and advanced composition students. With the support of a Fulbright fellowship, she recently spent a year in Oaxaca, Mexico, studying the linguistic and educational experiences of U.S.-raised Mexican-origin youth as they (re)integrated into Mexican schools. She is Executive Editor of the journal Spanish in Context and co-director of the Language in Context Research Group at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She will be at CUNY during the Spring 2016 term.