District Columbia: For the school year that started August of 2015, one Spanish Dual Immersion school had only 30 slots yet 544 applicants. Parents eagerly wait on a raffle system to find out the fate of their child’s education.
In Utah, Dual Immersion programs have been a state priority in education. Starting in 1979 when an Alpine family rallied for a Spanish Dual Immersion program in their school, Utah now boasts 6 languages taught in 118 schools. The languages taught include Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, and Chinese. One large motivation for this focus is the business advantages of having such a diversely speaking workforce in Utah. Additional assets include increase academic, cognitive, and cultural benefits for their students.
In Utah the Dual Immersion is 50/50 so students, typically starting in First Grade, spend half their day speaking English and half their day speaking the target language. Teachers are also split up with an English and a Native Speaking Language teacher for each grade. Subjects are split so that students learn, not just the words to a language, but also how to learn and communicate completely in the target language.
Studies have shown that students who learn a foreign language in their elementary school years actually learn to speak the language as a native speaker. New language connections are formed in their brain and they can think and communicate natively. These students will have the advantage of speaking two native languages and will be far more comfortable that others in the workforce who learned a foreign language as a teen or adult, after their language connections were already formed in their brain.