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SDLIP Academy

Spanish Dual Language Immersion Program (SDLIP)


About the Spanish Dual Language Immersion Program (DLIP)

The goal of the Spanish DLIP is for students to become bilingual, bi-literate, bi-cognitive, culturally sensitive learners. Their skills and expanded worldview will prepare them for success in a dynamic, competitive 21st century society.

The DLI Program in the PUSD is based on a two-way, 90:10, language immersion model. Two-way means that classrooms are composed of both native English and native Spanish-speaking students so they can support each other in their development of both languages. The 90:10 model signifies that the Kindergarten curriculum is taught 90% in Spanish and 10% in English. At each subsequent grade level, the amount of instruction in English is increased by 10% so that by fourth grade, students are taught 50% in each language. Instruction focuses not only on mastery of content but also on the acquisition of language, including vocabulary and language structure and functions. This is known as Content Based Instruction (CBI). CBI is designed to integrate language and content, to address second language-learner needs and to encourage the transfer of skills, strategies, and knowledge across languages.


Q: How does the program work?

A: Spanish is the ¨target language¨ of instruction. In a 90:10 program, this means that students will learn academic standards in Spanish in kindergarten, with the 10% of English instruction focused on literacy skills that are unique to English (such as specific phonetic sounds and oral language.) Teachers use strategies (visuals, hands-on experiences, etc.) that help students transfer the content they learn in one language to the other, without the need to repeat lessons in both languages, mix languages, or rely on translation to help students. As the percentage of English instruction increases across the grade levels, subject areas beyond language arts will also be taught in English, prompting the students to master academic subjects in both languages. See PUSD’s Master Plan for the breakdown of the content areas taught in each language.

Q: How can students learn in Spanish if they don't speak or understand it?

A: Critical period theories of language development suggest that before puberty, the brain readily absorbs a second language. SDLIP teachers strategically convey instructional content using songs, visual aids, gestures, and many hands-on activities to help students learn. They also provide many opportunities to practice oral language skills through structured conversation with peers and opportunities for presentational speaking.

Q: How do dual language immersion students perform on standardized tests?

A: PUSD curriculum is aligned with California Common Core State Standards in all subjects. Research shows that dual language immersion students have generally achieved the same results or better than their mainstream peers on the English Language Arts California Standards Test (ELA CST), which has been replaced with thSMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) in California.

Q: How long will it take for my child to become bilingual?

A: Language acquisition takes approximately seven years in an intensive learning environment. Continuous participation in the DLIP through at least 6th grade is recommended for students to demonstrate the cognitive, academic, and linguistic benefits of bilingualism. In order to reap the full linguistic and cognitive advantages of advanced language proficiency, students should plan to continue immersion into high school. Starting in early elementary (if continuously enrolled) can lead to intermediate, pre-advanced, or advanced levels of proficiency by the end of high school.

Q: How many students in a class will be native Spanish speakers?

A: Because student interaction facilitates higher levels of second language proficiency, the goal is to keep the representation of native English speakers and native Spanish speakers balanced at 50:50 with half of the students dominant in English and the other half of the students dominant in the target language. Understanding that enrollment is fluid, the Pasadena USD has identified an acceptable range of language representation that will continue to serve the needs of the community with minimal negative effect on the instructional program (between 50:50 and 70:30 with up to 70% of the students dominant in English and 30% of the students dominant in the partner language).

Q: What does STEAM look like in a DLIP class?

A: The STEAM disciplines are integrated across the content areas in Spanish and English in order for our students to develop a deep understanding of the connections between the languages. For example, students who are studying structures learn to understand the structure of a fictional story and of a well-written sentence, expository paragraph, narrative, or essay. They understand how math problems are structured and observe the structures in artwork. They study the structure of society in social studies as well as identify structures in science and engineering. We teach our students to understand the connections between disciplines and across languages, further augmenting the cognitive benefits of developing fluency in more than one language.

How do I sign my child up for DLIP at Jackson?

Visit under PUSD SERVICES for more information on the enrollment process and important dates.

For kindergarten, no knowledge of Spanish is necessary. However, students applying to enter starting at first grade and above will be tested on their level of Spanish language proficiency (listening, speaking, reading, and writing.)

PUSD provides Transitional Kindergarten opportunities for dual language immersion at Jackson STEAM Magnet. 

Applications will be accepted after the deadline if spaces are still available.

Students from outside the Pasadena Unified School District may enroll by inter-district transfer. Transfer students, with the exception of students entering kindergarten, will need to undergo Spanish language proficiency testing prior to acceptance in PUSD’s DLIP.

 If you would like assistance completing your application, please visit:

Office of Enrollment, Permits, and Records
Room 123 at the Ed. Center
351 S. Hudson Ave
Pasadena, CA 91109


The educational benefits of dual-language instruction for children are well-documented.

PUSD Dual Language Immersion Master Plan

Two-Way Immersion Education - The Basics

Guiding Principles for Dual Language Education

The Multiple Benefits of Dual Language

A National Study of School Effectiveness for Language Minority Students’ Long-Term Academic Achievement

Research and Resources for English Learner Achievement

Speaking in Tongues is a feature film following four students as they learn a second language, transforming their sense of self, their families, and their communities in the process.