Class graduates elementary school bilingual

Apr. 15, 2013 @ 06:34 PM

One class of kindergartners started on their foreign language journey six years ago.
Now, those kindergartners are fifth graders and will be the first class of students to graduate Hopewell Elementary completely bilingual and fluent in Spanish.
“Our previous principal was bilingual and that really sparked an interest,” said Maria Broos, assistant principal at Hopewell and a parent of a first grader in the program. “It gives children a leg up in creative higher thinking, as well as in the future, they’ll be able to pick and choose what jobs they want because they’re bilingual.”
Using the Splash program from VIF International Education, kindergarten and first grade students are completely immersed in the language with all of their subjects taught in Spanish. In second grade, students get 45 minutes of English instruction and it increases each year to 90 minutes in fifth grade.
“It builds a really strong foundation,” Broos said. “My daughter is in first grade and she can already read and write in Spanish.”
“Our teachers are native speakers that we get through Splash,” she said. “They are from Peru, Columbia and Ecuador and they have those authentic accents.”
Hopewell’s immersion program is the only one in Randolph County. Students cannot enter the program after first grade. Communities with significant English language learner populations can benefit from the two-way immersion model, a program that promotes academic achievement through enrichment rather than remediation. Native English speaking students benefit from the academic rigor inherent in learning through another language.
Broos said there is one Spanish immersion class per grade and each year there is a waiting list but there are no plans to add anymore classes.
Kids at Hopewell are selected strictly by lottery. A student with an older sibling already in the program is guaranteed a place.
“It’s amazing to see their growth and to see how far they’ve come,” Broos said.

jhowse@hpe.com|888-3617