In 2008, the Utah Senate passed the International Initiatives, creating funding for Utah schools to begin Dual Language Immersion programs in Mandarin Chinese, French, and Spanish, Portuguese and German. Wasatch County School District (WCSD) began with one school program in 2008 in Spanish and has continued to add school programs throughout the district.
There are now five elementary Spanish programs, two middle school programs and one high school Spanish program. In 2017, there will be almost 1700 students participating with 250 students added annually.
WCSD is a part of the Utah Dual Language Immersion Program which follows a fifty-fifty model, in which students spend half of their school day in the target language and the other half-day in English. The WCSD’s programs begin in 1st grade, with a few starting in kindergarten. All state-sponsored schools with Dual Language Immersion programs are required to implement the fifty-fifty model and use two teachers, one who instructs exclusively in the target language for half of the day and a second who teaches in English for the remainder of the day.
From kindergarten through third grade, the target language curriculum includes Spanish literacy and the majority of the content subjects (math, science, and social studies). The English curriculum focuses on English language arts and some collaborative reinforcement of the content. Teamwork is essential!
The curriculum shifts in the fourth and fifth grades with most of the conceptual instruction in math and social science taught in English. In the sixth grade, social science, natural sciences and Spansih Literacy are taught in the target language. These curriculum changes in the upper grades purposefully allow for more instruction time in the target language, focusing on literacy study and increasing student language proficiency. Specific language proficiency goals are set at each grade level in all areas: reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
The WCSD Secondary Dual Language Immersion Program offers Spanish DLI 5 Honors and an 0.5 semester elective called Culture, History & Media in grades seven through nine. Participating students are expected to enroll in Advanced Placement language coursework and complete the AP exam in either the ninth or tenth grade.
In tenth through twelve grades, students will be offered upper division university-level coursework with six major Utah universities.
Utah DLI Pathway