In a few short weeks, New Hope Elementary will begin their newly implemented dual language program.
After a year and a half of planning, the school has partnered with Orange County to provide dual language instruction for the district. The program will begin in two kindergarten classes starting this upcoming 2018-19 school year.
Not only is New Hope Elementary introducing the dual language program, the school is introducing a “globally integrated curriculum” for all grades, according to New Hope Elementary Principal Ambra Wilson.
The dual language program will be following the 50-50 model for dual language instruction, and the 48 students participating in the program will be instructed in an equal amount of both English and Spanish.
Co-teachers Holli Wallace and Luis Rios will be instructing the two classes. Wallace will teach one class of 24 students in English, while Rios will teach the other 24 in Spanish. The following day, they will switch and the students will pick up where the previous lesson left off in whichever language they are scheduled to learn that day.
Students will study a standard elementary curriculum in both languages that includes math, science, social studies, reading and writing.
“This will involve intense planning to be sure that the instruction is mapped out appropriately and that I am teaching where he left off with his the day before and vice versa,” Wallace said.
Some students were able to receive a crash course in their non-native language during this year’s Summer Readiness Camp held by New Hope Elementary, but not all. Many participants will start the program without knowledge of their non-native language.
The teachers plan to combat that hurdle with consistency and structure. Each day will follow a strict schedule that is mirrored in both languages. The idea being if the students are confident in what is expected of them then they can participate and learn in either language, according to Wallace.
The addition of the program required extra funds that were approved by the district and have been used for classroom supplies, instructional materials in both languages and assessments, according to Superintendent Todd Wirt.
New Hope Elementary also held a spring fundraiser to upgrade their media center as well as supplement the dual language program and the globalization of the school.
As of now, the program only includes the two kindergarten classes. If all goes well, next year the program will be offered at the first grade level, allowing current students of the program to continue their education in both English and Spanish.
Wirt says the district plans to follow the program closely as there is the potential to expand dual language instruction to other schools in Orange County.
However, language is not the only focus of this program. Wilson wants the students to embrace another culture while simultaneously embracing their own.
“My hope is for our dual language program to provide our students the opportunity to be bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural,” Wilson said. “For our Latino students I am excited about this opportunity for students to develop pride in their heritage and develop language skills to continue to connect with their families in Spanish.”
In preparation for the program, Rios and other district leaders went on several trips that allowed them to visit schools that featured different types of dual language programs to determine what type of program would most benefit the students at New Hope Elementary.
“Mr. Rios has great relationships with our community, especially our Latino community. They respect and have confidence in him as a teacher,” Wilson said. “When implementing a new program and curriculum that requires collaboration and tight correlation, I cannot think of two better educators to bring this program to life.”