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Dual Immersion Language Learning – Portuguese

Portuguese flag and students

South Mesa Elementary Portuguese Dual Immersion Program

We are Courageous, We are Kind, We Strive for Excellence. We are the South Mesa Knights!


Dual Language Immersion is a general education program designed to help students become biliterate and culturally competent in a global community.

The Utah State Dual Language Immersion Elementary Model follows a 50:50 model design; students spend half of their school day in the immersion language and the other half-day in English. All state-sponsored programs are required to use two teachers, one who instructs exclusively in the immersion language for half of the day and a second teacher who teaches exclusively in English the other half of the day.


  1. Second Language Skills: Students achieve high proficiency in the immersion language.
  2. Cognitive Skills: Immersion students typically develop greater cognitive flexibility, demonstrating increased attention control, better memory, and superior problem-solving skills as well as an enhanced understanding of their primary language. (They often outperform monolinguals in the areas of divergent thinking, pattern recognition, and problem-solving.)
  3. Cultural Competency: Immersion students are more aware of and generally show more positive attitudes towards other cultures and an appreciation of other people. 
  4. Performance on Standardized Tests: Immersion students perform as well as or better than non-immersion students on standardized tests in English.
  5. Long Term Benefits: Immersion students are better prepared for the global community and job markets where 21st century skills are an asset. World language abilities are increasingly important to national security, delivery of health care, economic competitiveness, and law enforcement in the United States. Future high-level, high-paying jobs will require competence in more than one language.  


  1. Global Communication: Portuguese is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, with over 220 million native speakers and 20-30 million second language speakers. Portuguese is an official language in ten countries and territories.
  2. Career Opportunities: As a global language, Portuguese proficiency can open doors to various career opportunities. Many international organizations, businesses, and government agencies value employees who can communicate in Portuguese, especially in industries related to trade, diplomacy, tourism, and cultural exchange.
  3. Gateway to Other Romance Languages: Portuguese is a Romance language, sharing roots with other languages like Spanish, Italian, French, and Romanian. Portuguese can provide a solid foundation due to linguistic similarities.


  • Parents DO NOT have to know the target language. 
  • Commit to long-term participation in the dual immersion program.
  • Develop an understanding of dual immersion education.
  • Read with your child in English 20-30 minutes daily.
  • Encourage the use of the target language outside of school hours.
  • Provide community support and, when possible, volunteer.
  • Enjoy the challenges, celebrate the results.


What happens if my student is struggling in English reading or math? Should I pull my student from the DLI program? Most times NO! English language and Math interventions are available at SMES. Pulling a student from the program should only be considered after meeting with the student’s teachers and the principal and after going through all options to determine that is the best option for the student.


  • SMES is a Utah Top 10 School!
  • SMES prioritizes both English and Portuguese 
  • SMES is 1st in State for K-3 Literacy 
  • SMES is a Model Professional Learning Community School
  • SMES has an Amazing School Culture and the Teachers are fantastic
  • Extracirricular activities Choir, Lego Leauge and Portuguese Club, Run Club


Utah Dual Immersion Website

Washington County School District Dual Immersion Website

Utah Dual Immersion Video 

Why Should You Learn Portugues 

Advantages of a Bilingual Brain 

Second Language Learning in Elementary Years: Cognitive and Social-Emotional Benefits

What is Dual Immersion?