Bilingual, Biliterate, and Bicultural
Dual Language in Westside Schools
Dual language programs, in which classes are given in English and Spanish, have exploded in popularity within San Antonio. In the school districts of the historically Mexican American Westside, there are 23 dual language programs, ranging from early childhood to high school, and including Washington Irving Academy, an entirely dual language campus (EISD, 2019; SAISD, 2021).
Dual language programs seek to promote bilingualism, biliteracy, biculturalism, and high academic achievement, and to empower students by recognizing their cultural identity (e.g., Malik, 2019; SAISD, 2019). The idea of empowerment is essential, as U.S. Spanish speakers suffer from insecurity. While they believe their language is an important part of their identity, they also tend to see it as deficient, incorrect, and useless outside of the family (e.g., George & Peace, 2019; Villa, 2003; Zentella, 2007).
This project presents the story of Spanish on the Westside, its diminishing over time, how the school system historically limited its reach, and how schools today are fighting to give it a place of importance in society. Included are articles, statistics, and interviews with multiple generations of Westside residents and students. We showcase the great work that dual language programs do and encourage other educators to recognize their students’ culture, identity, and language.
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