What inspired this project?
On November 8, 2016, Californians voted to pass Proposition 58, which implements the California Multilingual Act of 2016. According to EdSource.org (2017), this law gave California public schools more control over dual language acquisition programs. Previous to Proposition 58, there were already schools that had either bilingual or dual language immersion programs. However these were only created if enough parents signed waiver requests specifically giving consent for their child to be enrolled in bilingual programs (EdSource.org, 2017). Now, California students will have the opportunity to learn English and another language without having to do this. In California, Spanish is the most common language spoken by English learners (California Department of Education [CDE], 2017). The CDE reported that there were approximately 1.3 million English learners enrolled in California public schools in the 2016-17 school year, and 83.10% of those students speak Spanish (2017). The goal of dual immersion programs is to develop strong skills and proficiency in both English and the other language. The Center for Applied Linguistics recommends these programs enroll more or less an equal number of native English speakers and native speakers of the partner language (2016). Typically, 50% of the students in these programs come from English speaking backgrounds and 50% come from the other language.
In the district where the research for this study was conducted, there are two Spanish dual immersion schools. They are both 90-10 models, which means that all students begin kindergarten with Spanish instruction 90% of school day and 10% in English. As students progress through the years, the percentage of Spanish instructional time decreases and English instructional time increases until instruction is at 50% Spanish and 50% English. As many studies suggest, it becomes more difficult to engage students in speaking Spanish as they progress through the grades. When they speak with their teachers, they make an effort to speak Spanish, but when they speak with their peers in the classroom, the majority of the students speak English. It is more challenging to engage the native-Spanish and English speakers during Spanish instruction. At this level Spanish vocabulary becomes more challenging for both the Spanish language learners and native-Spanish speakers. English becomes the language of choice for most at this level. It is important to find ways to engage students to use Spanish more often in a predominantly English speaking environment.
The problem is that there is an increasing need and demand for bilingual education. Students are expected to become bilingual and biliterate when they exit a two-way immersion program after six years. However it becomes increasingly more difficult to engage students during Spanish instruction. My students were exhibiting a lack of interest and motivation during Spanish instruction and I had to find ways to engage my students during Spanish instruction. Since we went 1:1 this year at my grade level with Chromebooks, I began to implement a variety of digital tools in order to see if student engagement would increase during Spanish instruction.