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Board adopts Heritage Language program

Aims to help Hispanic kids hang on to Spanish

Madera Unified’s Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program is being expanded and is taking on an additional role. At its Sept. 24 meeting, the school board voted not only to expand the program to Pershing School, but also to add a “Heritage Language Program” at Washington School.

The vote came as the result of a feasibility study to expand the successful DLI program to include adding an element that would “recapture, develop, and maintain” the Spanish language of the Hispanic community’s heritage. The study called for the new language effort to be implemented at Washington Elementary School in Aug. 2020.

Results of a survey of Washington School parents showed overwhelming support for the program. While 73 percent of the respondents indicated that their child had not lost their ability to speak in their heritage language (Spanish) at home, 90 percent wrote that it was important for their children to learn to improve in their heritage language (Spanish) in addition to learning English at school.

When asked, “Are you interested in having your child participate in a Heritage Language Program where children from native Spanish speaking backgrounds are taught to read, write, speak, and think in Spanish during regular school hours,” 93 percent responded in the affirmative.

Ninety-two percent indicated they would choose to have their child participate in the program if it were offered at Washington School.

The Heritage Language Program will begin in kindergarten.

In the same vote Tuesday evening, school trustees authorized expanding the traditional DLI program that has been operating effectively at Madison School to include Pershing School. As was the case at Madison, the DLI program at Pershing will begin at kindergarten, with 90 percent of the instruction in Spanish and 10 percent in English. With each successive year, the percentage of instruction in Spanish will decrease by 10 percent, and the English instruction will increase by 10 percent. The linguistic composition of the classes will be 50 percent Spanish speakers and 50 percent English speakers.

Madison School is now in its third year of DLI instruction, which now includes Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade.

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