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The Gentrification of Dual Language Education


Utah’s dual language education (DL) initiative, officially introduced in 2007 and backed by unique state-level planning, is touted as a new “mainstreaming” of DL and is sparking interest across the U.S. Using a critical language policy lens and a mixed method approach, we asked which student groups were positioned discursively and materially to benefit the most from this policy across three types of privilege: white racial privilege, wealth, and English privilege. A critical discourse analysis conducted of five main Utah DL policy texts pointed toward already privileged student groups being discursively targeted for DL participation. Analysis of the demographics of schools housing DL programs between 2005 and 2014 showed a statistically significant drop in access for those without the three forms of privilege under study. We argue these findings are consistent with a larger trend toward the metaphorical gentrification of DL by students of more privilege than those it historically served. We discuss our concerns that as the Utah model spreads nationwide, the gentrification process threatens to position DL as the next wave in a broad pattern of inequitably distributed enrichment education within U.S. schools. We recommend steps toward avoiding this inequitable outcome.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    Monanglicization builds on the term Anglicization, language shift toward English, more widely used outside the U.S. (Louw 2004).


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Correspondence to Verónica E. Valdez.

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The authorship of this manuscript is credited equally to all three authors. Each contributed toward its conceptualization, data collection, analysis, and writing. An earlier version of this paper was first presented as For whom is the dual language immersion boom? The gentrification of strong forms of U.S. language education at the 2013 American Educational Research Association Annual Conference in San Francisco, CA.

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Valdez, V.E., Freire, J.A. & Delavan, M. The Gentrification of Dual Language Education. Urban Rev 48, 601–627 (2016).

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  • Dual language education
  • Educational equity
  • Enrichment education
  • Foreign language immersion
  • Bilingual education