More than 60,000 K-12 students in Utah spend up to half their school day learning a second language as part of the state’s Dual Language Immersion program. Started in 2008 at 15 elementary schools, DLI expanded quickly. By 2016, more than 220 programs were running, and the first cohort would soon be in high school—but there was a small catch: the advanced language classes hadn’t been created yet
That’s when Jill Landes-Lee MEd’06 EDD’19 and the U came into the picture. Landes-Lee was appointed director for Utah’s Bridge Program, housed in the U’s Second Language Teaching and Research Center. Her team develops the upper division college courses taught in DLI high schools (in six languages) for students who pass the AP exam in 9th grade. “By the time they finish high school, they almost have a minor,” she says. “They’re not only demonstrating language ability at a high level but also trying out college culture and behaviors."
Landes-Lee says Utah’s DLI is the only statewide program in the country that offers a K-16 language pathway—thanks to the extraordinary partnership between the state legislature, K-12, and higher education in Utah. “It’s such an empowering opportunity for these students.”