A unique milestone is approaching within Davis School District. While the district’s first dual-language immersion students from 2005 have since graduated, students in the last immersion program added to the district at Lincoln Elementary are now eighth graders at North Layton Junior High.
Once they enter 10th grade at Northridge High in a year and a half, every high school in the district will offer at least one 3000 level world language course, known as a Bridge upper-division university course. Most of the students enrolled in Bridge courses come from the elementary dual-language immersion programs.
That means several hundred high school students have the opportunity to further their language development each year and earn college-level credit at the same time, according to World Language Specialist Jo Carmiol. Students enrolled in Bridge courses can earn up to nine language credits from the Bridge courses, which is just two courses shy of a language minor.
“We are instilling in them a mindset of being college ready while they are taking academically challenging college-level courses, said Carmiol. “Having the language component makes them more marketable and opens up job prospects. While many are not language majors, most are pursuing other degrees and are grateful to have finished their language.”
When the state piloted the first Bridge course in 2016, Davis School District had 73 students enrolled in a Spanish Bridge course. This year, there are 472 students in the district enrolled in Bridge courses for Spanish, French and Chinese, Carmiol said.
There are a host of students in the district coming up the line that will be eligible for Bridge courses. What began in 2005 with the first Spanish immersion program of 114 students at two elementary schools has now grown to 3,600 students at 12 schools with dual-language immersion programs — five schools with Spanish, four schools with Chinese and three schools with French. The district also has nine junior high schools that offer immersion continuation courses, currently with over 1,500 participants.
Farmington High Language Teacher Fermín Soriano helped transition the first Spanish immersion group into the Bridge program in 2016. At the time, he said, there were only four high schools from two school districts in Utah participating in the new program. Six years later, there are more than 80 high schools in Utah with Bridge courses in Spanish, French and Chinese.
“I feel so fortunate to be one of the pioneers of this immersion adventure,” said Soriano. “The students who have participated in the immersion program have a set of skills that make them think differently. The exposition that the immersion students have had to another language has provided tools that they will keep for life, even if they don’t make language a career.”