- Associated Press - Sunday, May 8, 2016

LAYTON, Utah (AP) - The students in Utah’s pilot program for dual language immersion are now teenagers with the potential to earn college language credit.

The program has grown from two groups of students to 138 Utah schools, the Salt Lake Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1pZe2CQ).

Students spend part of the school day learning in a non-native language.

Layton High School sophomore Mikelle Argyle has been in the program since first grade.

“Pretty soon we were getting better and better,” Argyle said. “We were almost on the same level as our teachers at a certain point.”

Argyle was recently getting ready to take an Advanced Placement test. Her score could earn her lower-level college credit in Spanish.

Utah plans to expand the program in the fall with a path to upper-division college language credit for high school students who pass an AP language class and exam.

“When they graduate from any Utah high school, they’re only two classes short of having a minor in that target language,” said Gregg Roberts, the Utah Office of Education’s world language specialist.

Roberts said about 20 percent of the state’s elementary schools have dual immersion programs. About 20 to 25 new programs launch annually.

“Utah students are competing for jobs against students in Asia, Europe, Latin America - the world - and guess what? Those kids aren’t monolingual,” he said. “It’s not the future. Most people in the world are multilingual.”

The program is likely to add Russian and Arabic in the coming years.

“Russian is pretty much a surety,” Roberts said. “Either this year or next year.”

Argyle is still two years from graduating high school, and says she intends to take advantage of the opportunity to earn higher-level college credits.

“When you’ve put so much time and effort into this program,” she said, “why not go all the way and get all the benefits?”

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

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