April 06, 2005

Program will explore dual language education

by Katharine Quaranta

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois Dual Language Coalition is hosting a free community conference on the benefits and practicalities of dual language education for both parents of young children and educators. The conference will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 23, at the Carbondale Middle School.

The dual language coalition is part of the Linguistics Department at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The conference, sponsored by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, will include bilingual speakers, activities, and games for children. Speakers include teachers from Mexico, professors, and families who have experienced dual language programs. They will talk about the advantages of dual language programs in elementary schools.

These programs, in which students are educated through immersion in English and Spanish, are designed to make both Spanish-speaking and English-speaking students completely bilingual.

Joan Friedenberg, a professor of linguistics at SIUC, says the idea is catching on across the country. "There are over 350 dual language programs in the U.S. " she said. "I think the community is ready, and, for the first time, thanks to a new program in SIUC's linguistics department, there are certified bilingual teachers in our own community."

Friedenberg said the event will entertain and inform. "It will have live music and entertainment, a catered Mexican lunch buffet, a dual language children's program and cool door prizes," she explained.

The coalition will provide bus service for those who need a ride to the event, including people in the Cobden and Anna areas who may not have other means of transportation.

The deadline for registration is Friday, April 15. To register, call 618/453-4319, visit the Web site http://www.siuc.edu/~bilingualed, or mail your registration to:

The Southern Illinois Dual Language Coalition
Faner Hall, Mail Code 4571
Linguistics Department
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Carbondale, IL 62901

Be sure to provide your name, address, phone number, e-mail address and the names of everyone attending, including the ages any of children.

Community outreach is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, a long-range blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.