5 Spot: Julia Barrientos of the Dual Immersion Academy | News | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

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5 Spot: Julia Barrientos of the Dual Immersion Academy

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Julia Barrientos directs the Dual Immersion Academy, a free public charter school at 1155 S. Glendale Drive (DIAcharter.org). Serving on her board is Patricia Dark, wife of City Weekly staffer Stephen Dark. When doors open on Sept. 4, 350 students (grades K-6) are expected to be enrolled, half of whom speak Spanish while the other half speaks English. Lessons are taught in English one week, Spanish the next. To learn more, attend DIA’s grand inauguration (ribbon-cutting) on Thursday, Aug. 23, at 5:30 p.m.

Why a dual-immersion charter school?
People who are educated bilingually have many obvious advantages when they enter the workforce. In addition, studies show children educated in this model demonstrate higher levels of cognitive flexibility and excel in math, science and other subjects.

Isn’t this an experimental school? Why take chances on your child’s education?
This is absolutely not an experimental school. There are approximately 400 dual immersion schools in the United States and many more worldwide. There is extensive research on the efficacy of dual immersion (see Two Way Immersion at CAL.org).

Shouldn’t school be taught only in our mother tongue?
Multilingualism is valued all over our planet. Most First World countries appreciate, encourage and even require multilingualism.

What’s been the most rewarding aspect of your work?
Our students are African American, Polynesian, Asian, Caucasian, Native American, and of course, Latino. To me, this diversity is the highlight of DIA.

And your biggest challenge?
Securing funding and a building for the school. We need our generous Utah philanthropists to invest in our mission.
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