Thursday, September 11, 2008

SDL considering phasing in "language immersion" program

The School District of Lancaster (SDL) is considering implementing a program called "language immersion," according to information made available at an Education Committee meeting, Thursday.

Language immersion entails integrating both some English-language and some Spanish-language material into almost all areas of the curriculum, rather than having separate language courses.

The conclusions of research studies, cited by SDL's information sheet, suggests that such consistent exposure to a foreign language stimulates children's cognitive capacities in general and linguistic ability in particular - not only for Spanish but for English as well.

In other words, research suggests that more frequently exposing children to the Spanish language not only helps them learn Spanish better and faster, but also improves their English skills like vocabulary and grammar.

The program is aimed at both English Language Learners (ELLs) and native English speakers.

According to a draft plan, the program could start being implemented with kindergarteners as early as the 2009-10 school year. In K-3, the curriculum, would be 70% in Spanish and 30% in English. After third grade, the curriculum would be 50/50.

Superintendent of schools Pedro Rivera said that participation in the program would be strictly voluntary.

"Parents have to buy into this in order for it to be successful," Rivera continued.

The proposed process calls for parent meetings, selecting school locations, and the development of a student selection process starting in January 2009.

This item is expected to be presented for discussion at the School Board's Tuesday Sep. 16 meeting.