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Bilingual program takes a deep dive


January 24, 2019 | View PDF

The Dual Language Immersion Program is for TK and kindergarten students. Each year a grade will be added through the sixth grade. The goals of the program are to allow students to be advanced in oral language proficiency and academic literacy in English and Spanish students. Another goal is high academic achievement in the mainstream core curriculum. One more goal of the program is the promotion of cross-cultural awareness and the development of high self-esteem.

According to Joanne Carrillo, of the Richland School District, the program integrates native English speakers and English learners for academic instruction taught in two languages. It also has rigorous core academic curriculum aligned to state standards. “The program teaches academic subjects in strategic separation of languages with no translation,” said Carrillo. The commitment for the program is enrollment from kindergarten through the sixth grade.

Carrillo said that the benefits of the program are plentiful. “The students will be bilingual, with cognitive advantages, and will have enhanced college and career opportunities.”

The Dual Immersion Program begins in August for TK and kindergarten students. In a lot of the classes the lessons will be in Spanish and the following day, it will be in English.

Experts say that being immersed in two languages in early stages of academic development can benefit the student in more ways than just learning another language. It also allows the students to problem-solve in a different way, and it helps their cognitive skills for a lifetime.

Unlike a traditional foreign language course, where students may learn a new language for only part of the day, students enrolled in an immersion program are quite literally immersed in their new language; a majority or all of their instruction will be in that language. A child won’t just speak Spanish or English when building his or her new language skills, but will also learn about general topics, like fractions, the Civil War, in a second language.

According to Carrillo, “Parents often choose immersion environments because continuous exposure to a new language, particularly before the age of 12, can help children quickly understand a new language, not unlike how they learned to speak English.”

Studies have shown that the gap has been closed in students who are involved in the dual immersion programs and have performed at the same level or higher than monolingual students.

Parents who are interested and wish to learn more about the program may attend a Dual Language orientation meeting. The next session is Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 3 p.m. at the Parent Center, 300 North Valley St. More information is available from Carrillo at 661-746-8619.


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