Pictured left to right: Violet Martinez, Rubi Cicero | Photo courtesy SEISD
Despite the pandemic, the San Elizario ISD launched its first-ever dual language education program this school year.
The program, now available for students in Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten, will grow each subsequent year, as the district will be adding the program to both first and second grade next school year. The goal is to have students take advantage of dual-language classes up to their twelfth-grade year.
“The Dual Language Program has many benefits. Our students develop the ability to read and write in another language, in addition to being able to listen and speak it, which is beneficial on the border,” Sandra Rico, Bilingual Instructional Officer shares.
District officials say that dual-language education is the best educational model to produce graduates, who speak two languages, but read and write at grade level (or above) in Spanish and English.
“The academic growth that students are demonstrating both in English and Spanish has been phenomenal,” Loya Primary Pre-K teacher Diana Berumen says.
This program takes advantage of children’s natural language learning abilities; instead of teaching a language, teachers teach through language.
Berumen adds, “Students are taking the initiative to have conversations in English and Spanish, not only in Spanish.”
Teachers use special techniques called Sheltered Instruction to help those children who are working in their second language. While every teacher must follow the curriculum guidelines for every subject as set forth by the state of Texas, the only difference is that the teacher and students are doing all of this in two languages.
Students are immersed in both languages – 50% English/50% Spanish instruction – studying the same subjects as other students; however, the teacher does not translate for the students.
“Children have a natural language-learning capacity, and using a second language to learn at school is a natural way to pick up that language,” program officials share.
Mariana Molina, a parent at Loya Primary adds, “The dual-language program is important because we are on the border where two languages are equally spoken. In my son’s case, his grandparents only speak Spanish, and he needs English to understand when other people speak to him in the language.”
Officials add that families are a big part of the program, as students will need the full support of their families to succeed. While the dual-language is a challenging program, the family does not have to be bilingual.
For residents interested in the dual language program or wish to enroll their child into the program, they may contact Susana Frescas, Coordinator of Instructional Programs, at 915-872-3900.