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While our dual-language program and our International Baccalaureate dual-language program essentially have the same goal of ensuring students are bilingual and bi-literate by the time they begin middle school, there are important differences to note when considering which option is best for your student.

Each program offers a 90-10 model—students are taught in the target language 90 percent of the time and English 10 percent of the time. As the students advance in grade levels, the percentages change until they reach a balanced 50-50 split, which generally occurs toward the latter part of elementary school.

Participating in either of these programs creates tremendous benefits in the lives of our students. In Downey Unified School District, we strive to promote values reflective of our own culture as well as those of others, all while helping students to develop and demonstrate appreciation for diversity. One difference in this regard, however, is that the IB program places a stronger focus on international mindedness as well as developing student agency.

While each program utilizes cognitively guided instruction in math and a comprehensive approach to building biliteracy—such as reading aloud, shared reading, guided reading, and phonics—the general teaching styles are not the same. Our dual-language program follows rigorous instructional units, based on common core standards, taught in a discipline-specific blocked schedule in which certain time is allotted for each discipline all of which are instructed separately from one another.

The IB dual-language program, however, follows the International Baccalaureate framework that is concept-driven and specifically focuses on finding connections and allowing students to inquire and investigate through a transdisciplinary approach to learning. Essentially, they become integral instigators of their own learning. Rather than solely honing in on the particular subject matters themselves, each lesson dynamically ties together in order to ensure that students make connections and transfer knowledge in different contexts. There is no use of blocked scheduling, and the use of inquiry-based lessons allows students to guide the lessons and create their own unique moments of learning. Though the IB program offers such diverse features, through its six interdisciplinary themes, it continues to follow the rigorous content standards set forth by the California Department of Education. Visit our page to learn more about IB.

Regardless of which program a student opts to follow, he or she will be exposed to beneficial cultural experiences and an academic curriculum that will allow them not only to communicate in two languages but also to further understand and appreciate backgrounds and lifestyles different from their own.