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Spring ISD launches dual language learning at three schools

August 30, 2018

Starting this year, students at three Spring ISD campuses will learn reading, writing and arithmetic in both Spanish and English as part of a dual-language program the district is launching.

Prekindergarten students at Clark Primary School along with kindergarten students at Northgate Crossing Elementary and Hirsch Elementary will be immersed in learning their daily lessons in both Spanish and English, said Lupita Hinojosa, SISD chief of school leadership and student support services.

“It’s not a language learning class, per se. It’s more that the language is the vehicle to learn the subjects, so the students are learning to read, do math, do their science in Spanish,” she said.

All three campuses have two classes with about 20 students in each class who have have started this school year in the dual language program.

Each class has a mix of about 10 English-speaking and 10 Spanish-speaking students, Hinojosa said.

The goal of the course is for native Spanish-speaking students to learn English while the native English-speakers learn Spanish.

“The classes are predominantly taught in Spanish and we started with the greatest natural resource that we have, which is the Spanish language,” Hinojosa said.

Spring ISD chose Spanish to be part of the dual language program as it is the most predominant foreign language spoken within the district.

Eventually, the district hopes to launch dual programs in other languages as well, Hinojosa said.

As the first students in this inaugural class, the students will continue throughout their next academic years learning in both languages.

Eventually, the school district will implement the program at both the middle and high school levels as the students continue.

Hinojosa said the district met with parents who expressed an interest in having their children learn in both languages and asked them to commit to the program while attending Spring ISD schools.

Within Harris County, Houston, Spring Branch and Alief ISDs have also implemented dual language programs in recent years.

Spring ISD offered this program after conducting listening sessions in 2014 to obtain feedback from families.

The three campuses were selected after obtaining high levels of interest from families.

The parents of students who are enrolled in the dual language program will also have access to language classes in both languages to be able to help their children.

“The parents are saying, ‘My children are learning Spanish and I also want to be able to keep up with them,’” Hinojosa said.

mayra.cruz@chron.com

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