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.
Research suggests that there is a great need and demand for bilingual education in California. In the research report of their 18 year longitudinal study, researchers Thomas and Collier (2004) found that English learners enrolled in dual immersion programs can close the achievement gap in six years. They also conclude that both English learners and native-English speakers in these programs outperform their peers enrolled in English only programs. The importance of speaking another language is a skill valued not only in California; nine states have approved the “Seal of Biliteracy,” which will appear on high school graduation diplomas of students who have studied and attained proficiency in two languages. Goldenberg & Wagner also emphasize the importance of promoting bilingualism for all students (2015). There have been many studies that show the benefits of bilingual education. One recent study by Burkhauser et al. (2016) looked into dual immersion programs and their efficacy of cultivating bilingualism. Specifically, the research examined partner language acquisition: listening, speaking, writing and reading. The study was conducted in the Portland Public school system. It focused on 1,284 students from 4 schools who began the immersion program as kindergarteners. Students were tested in Spanish in fourth, seventh and eighth grades. Their performance in the four skills mentioned above were measured with the Standards-Based Measurement Proficiency assessment (STAMP). The results of this study demonstrate that by eighth grade, the dual-language immersion student performed at least at the intermediate low sublevel, and at times higher in the four language skills. This is higher than the students that were tested in elective Spanish classes in eighth grade. This study supports other studies that exhibit the success of the dual language immersion model. An earlier study conducted by Susan Ballinger and Roy Lyster (2011) investigated the Spanish use of students and teachers in a two-way school in grades 1, 3 and 8. This four week study included four different data collection procedures: classroom observations, student questionnaires teacher interviews and student focus group interviews. The study was conducted in an urban, public, dual immersion, K-8 school in the U.S. that follows the 50:50 two-way model. The results of the study concluded that the students generally showed a preference for English, even when the language of instruction was Spanish. Students generally spoke Spanish with their teacher and English with their peers. The existence of studies that examine the effects of technology in a dual language classroom is scant. Johanna Prince’s (2017) case study adds to the research on how technology may support English language learners. This study was performed at an international school in Europe to investigate the experiences of 4th-grade ELL students and their teacher in a 1-to-1 iPad device classroom. The data was collected through interviews, artifacts, observations, and journals. The results of this study showed that iPads have specific functionalities that can be used to support ELL students; ELL students were engaged with using the iPads in content lessons; and study participants, including teacher and students, perceived language and cognitive growth in ELL students when using the iPad. The study concluded that one of the benefits of this research study was the fact that the iPads were engaging for students, and students were motivated to participate with the iPads. This study is only one example of how technology can engage students, and at the same time, be a tool to help language learners do better in classroom. Even with research that suggests the benefits of implementing technology in the classroom, there are still many educators that are reluctant to use technology. In a different study Filiz Varol (2013) looked at the factors that affect the elementary schools teachers’ integration of technology in their classroom instruction. In this study, 108 randomly selected school teachers agreed to fill out two questionnaires about both their knowledge and attitudes towards technology and the internet. This study concluded that teachers have adequate knowledge about common software application such as email, word processing, use of spreadsheets, etc, but have limited or no knowledge of specialized software products such as animations, programming languages, and databases. The results also showed that teachers use what they are more familiar with in the classroom. This finding is echoed in the Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition (SAMR) model which supports and enables teachers to design, develop, and infuse digital learning experiences that utilize technology. The goal is to transform learning experiences so they result in higher levels of achievement for students (SAMR, n.d.). Research also indicates that there is a need to incorporate technology in the classroom in meaningful ways in order to engage students in the learning. Dietrich’s and Balli’s (2014) qualitative study investigated technology use with a group of what Marc Prensky describes as “digital natives,” that is born in the era of technology. This study involved 34 fifth grade students in interviews about classroom learning and technology. The results showed that students were more engaged when using technology in the classroom. However, there were higher levels of engagement when students had control and choice of the technology. In conclusion, the research conducted thus far has suggested that students enrolled in dual immersion programs have demonstrated high academic achievement in English after after six years. The studies mentioned above have also suggested that the implementation of technology in classrooms may lead to higher levels of student engagement and therefore lead to higher levels of student achievement. There is a gap in research about the use of technology in a dual immersion classroom to ensure student engagement when learning the partner language.