San Bernardino City Unified Recognized as a State Model for Biliteracy

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A  Belvedere  student  in  the  Dual Immersion (Spanish/English) program  also  learns  some  Vietnamese as part of a pilot trilingual program.

The San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD), a longstanding leader in dual language immersion, has earned statewide recognition for its commitment to bilingualism.

The group Californians Together will honor the District with the prestigious Multiple Pathway to Biliteracy District Recognition Award on March 22. The award will be presented during the California Association for Bilingual Education’s Seal of Excellence banquet in Long Beach.

SBCUSD’s long history of valuing biliteracy and multilingualism, including the establishment of the successful Dual Immersion Program 19 years ago, are among the reasons for its selection. In addition, Californians Together highlighted the District’s launch of the Multilingual Initiative as a “bold plan to engage all students in high-level multilingual learning opportunities.” The state group also commended the introduction of the innovative, new Trilingual Immersion Program as evidence of the District’s pledge to encourage all students to reach high levels of proficiency in two or more languages. The trilingual program will fully launch at Belvedere Elementary School in August, promoting English, Spanish, and Vietnamese starting in kindergarten.

The community’s rich linguistic diversity is one of our greatest assets because speaking a language other than English is vital in a multilingual workforce, said Superintendent Dr. Dale Marsden.

“In San Bernardino City Unified, we have long recognized that bilingualism and biliteracy are strengths that will help our students in college and the workforce,” Marsden said.  “We recognize that a child’s home language is an asset that should be cultivated.  We have an amazing opportunity to capitalize on our community’s linguistic and cultural strengths and position ourselves as leaders in preparing our students for careers in the global economy.”

Marsden lauded the District’s English Learner Programs Department for its work to serve students who have not yet mastered the English language and those who want to learn a second or third language. Lead by Director Ana Applegate, the department is behind the thriving Dual Immersion Program, which is offered at 20 District schools.  In fact, 6,500 District students are enrolled in the District’s 26 biliteracy programs.

“Speaking more than one language is almost an expectation in our multilingual society,” Applegate said. “It makes our students competitive when they enter the workforce, and it opens them up to a whole new world.”

Every year, the English Learners department honors students who are making progress toward English proficiency and those who are working toward bilingualism and biliteracy. The department also supports students’ efforts to earn the State Seal of Biliteracy upon high school graduation.

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