San Rafael schools to offer two-way bilingual immersion program – Marin Independent Journal

0


[ad_1]

  • Spanish speaking freshman Kaitlyn Camara Castillo works on an art project during class at Venetia Valley School in San Rafael, Calif. On Friday, October 15, 2021 (Sherry LaVars / Marin Independent Journal)

  • Teacher Laura Malekian answers questions from Jordan Diaz Maldonado, a Spanish-speaking freshman, as they work on collages during class at Venetia Valley School in San Rafael, Calif., On Friday, October 15, 2021. ( Sherry LaVars / Marin Independent Journal)

  • Teacher Laura Malekian leads her Spanish speaking freshmen at Venetia Valley School in San Rafael, Calif. On Friday, October 15, 2021 (Sherry LaVars / Marin Independent Journal)

  • Spanish-speaking freshman Jurgen Mejia Herrera reads during class at Venetia Valley School in San Rafael, Calif. On Friday, October 15, 2021 (Sherry LaVars / Marin Independent Journal)

  • Teacher Laura Malekian chats with Spanish-speaking freshman Jurgen Mejia Herrera before a reading assessment during class at Venetia Valley School in San Rafael, Calif., On Friday, October 15, 2021 (Sherry LaVars / Marin Independent Journal)

  • Venetia Valley School in San Rafael, Calif. On Friday, October 15, 2021 (Sherry LaVars / Marin Independent Journal)

  • Teacher Laura Malekian answers students’ questions during class at Venetia Valley School in San Rafael, Calif. On Friday, October 15, 2021 (Sherry LaVars / Marin Independent Journal)

Schools in the city of San Rafael will begin offering a new two-way bilingual immersion program next fall.

The program, the second in public schools in Marin involving both Spanish and English speaking students, will be launched at Venetia Valley School with at least two kindergarten classes. Registration will begin in January.

Improved academic performance, better brain function, and greater marketability of work are some of the benefits envisioned for enrolled students, educators said.

“It’s fair, academically rigorous and rewarding,” vice-principal Lauren Menchavez told about 30 parents during an online and in-person briefing at the school Thursday. “Our values ​​include the intention to maximize the potential of the leaders of tomorrow.

Interested parents can now sign up to receive updates on the application process, which is still under development, said Venetia Valley manager Apolinaro Quesada. Families agree to stay until the fifth year of the program, after which both groups of native speakers will be bilingual upon entering college.

“This is a big misconception,” Quesada said, fearing that Latino children would lose places if white children or other English speaking children are allowed to participate. “Our goal is to increase registrations at Venetia Valley. “

The school currently offers a one-way bilingual program for native Spanish speakers only. Quesada said the new plan will not result in any loss for this population. Instead, he said, there will be wins for everyone.

“We will welcome additional families to participate in the program,” Quesada said. “At no point is this designed to remove anyone from the program or to remove resources from any of our students. “

Quesada said the plan is to enroll 24 children – 12 native Spanish speakers and 12 native English speakers – in each of the two kindergarten classes. If there is enough interest, the model could be extended to a first grade class or a transitional kindergarten class.

In the double immersion model, kindergarten classes start 90% in Spanish and 10% in English. The percentages recalibrate each year to add 10% more English at each subsequent grade level, culminating in Grades 4 and 5, where all classes are 50-50 English and Spanish.

“The other benefit of having our students immersed with white students and white students immersed with our Latino students is that we not only create a bilingual child, but we also immerse them in culture and traditions, opening up to them eyes on the differences and diversity that we see in our country, ”Quesada said this week.

At Thursday’s meeting, he stressed that “it’s not about the race.” He said there are many non-white families who are native English speakers and wish to be bilingual in Spanish. Having different native speakers in the classroom helps each group of students learn better.

“The two-way program provides more language models for children,” Menchavez said.

Concerns were also expressed about the current poor reading performance of some elementary classes in schools in the town of San Rafael. Quesada cited studies that indicated that the two-way dual-language model helps improve academic performance by exposing both native English and Spanish speakers to the cultural and linguistic modeling of their classmates.

“The growing interest in dual language in the county is of tremendous importance as the program allows students to have access to the same standards as other students while becoming bilingual and bi-literate in Spanish and English,” said said Melissa Diaz, principal of Lynwood Elementary School in Novato, which launched the first successful bilingual program in public schools in Marin.

The Novato Unified School District program was nearly scrapped in the spring amid a controversy over elementary school closures. Parents’ protests saved the school and also led to more visibility and interest in the program, according to Diaz.

“There has been interest since the program was shortlisted for school closures as the media coverage has helped educate the larger community about the program and what it offers,” Diaz said. “We currently have two full kindergarten classes, as well as a combined TK / K class – and we have already started our virtual school tours with increased parental interest as registration will open soon. “

The student demographics of Venetia Valley are currently around 80% native Spanish speakers and 20% native English speakers. Menchavez said she does not foresee any problems filling places in either language section of the two new kindergarten classes.

“I think there is already great interest among families,” Menchavez said. “I think they will jump at the chance.”

The program has been in the works for at least five years, Menchavez said. This year, the school filled all six vacant teaching positions with bilingual professionals, including five multicultural, Quesada said.

Quesada said the first preference would go to families within the Venetia Valley school boundaries and then to those within the San Rafael city school boundaries. The district will also consider inter-district transfer requests for students to enroll in the program from other parts of Marin.

“In our global and interconnected world, the ability to communicate with others in multiple languages ​​opens many doors, not the least of which is learning directly from others with a different perspective,” said Jim Hogeboom, District Superintendent , in an email.

“The world is hungry for multilingual speakers, not only in education, but in all fields including business, STEM, military and social sciences,” Hogeboom said. “This is a competitive advantage that I wish all of our students to achieve. “

Menchavez said research has found significant neurological benefits in bilingual education, including documented brain function improvements in children who learn two languages ​​at an early age.

Neurological improvements – especially with double immersion – have resulted in better motor skills, stronger math skills and lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease, according to Menchavez.

“We don’t use Spanish to teach English,” she said. “We are developing a bilingual brain. It enhances cognitive benefits by creating mental flexibility.

According to Quesada, these benefits extend to reading skills.

“We’re not just closing the achievement gap,” Quesada said, referring to underserved Latino students. “They can reach and surpass their peers in terms of English literacy.”

For more information, visit srcs.org/dual-language.

[ad_2]

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.