The Dual Language Immersion Program (DLI) is underway at Parkview Elementary School. One of eight elementary schools in the Valparaiso School Corporation, Parkview is in its second year of DLI. The program began last year with native Spanish speaking, Kristin Nguyen, teaching Math in Spanish to Kindergarten students. Those students, now first graders, are continuing their Math in Spanish skills with Amelia Mota, also a native Spanish speaker. This year’s Kindergarten students are experiencing 50% of their day in Spanish.
One goal of DLI is to give children the opportunity to become biliterate by the time they graduate from high school, which is very different that being bilingual. This program trains students to read, write, speak, and think in a different language. As young adults, they will have many more opportunities available to them because of these skills. We are preparing them for future possibilities we can’t even image in this ever-changing world. Our little community in Valparaiso is thinking globally as we empower and equip these future members of society.
My own daughter, Marie, is one of those students. As a first grade teacher at Parkview Elementary, I decided to bring Marie to Parkview with me for kindergarten because I could not pass up this incredible opportunity to have my daughter learn a second language!
So far, I am amazed! At this very moment, as I write this article, my daughter is playing and singing in Spanish. She comes home from school with a few new Spanish words each day. She is constantly counting, reciting the days of the week, singing songs, and using Spanish vocabulary in her everyday language. I recently spoke with the parent of a first grader who is new to Parkview this year. After only one month of Spanish, his mom is very impressed that he is not only meeting the first grade state standard of counting to 100 (in Spanish), but he insists on her listening to him count to 200! This program is proving to be quite amazing as we not only watch the students who had Spanish last year build upon what they learned, but also watch the new students catch on so quickly.
It is my hope that our corporation will continue this program so that Marie and her classmates will someday become biliterate. The pride and excitement I see in my first grade students when they are answering questions is Spanish gives me great hope for their future. Even if these students never use Spanish again in their lives, the confidence they have already gained makes this program so valuable to their education and overall well-being.