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Dual Language Program Allows Students To Become Fluent In English and Spanish

Bilingual. Biliterate. Bicultural. Those are the three big goals in Ms. Rivera's Kindergarten class.

Colton's parents signed him up for the Dual Language program at East Lake Elementary.

"It’s pretty fun," said Colton. "You get to learn two languages at the same time."

He'll spend the first half of his day learning social studies and reading in English. After lunch, he'll switch teachers so Ms. Nancy Rivera teaches literature, math, and science in Spanish.

"What I love the most is that the English speakers are teaching the Spanish speakers how to speak in English," said Ms. Rivera. "At the same time the Spanish speakers are feeling ownership and confident and proud of their language."

50 percent of the students speak English as their primary language, and the other 50 percent speak Spanish as their primary language. These students will travel in cohort together through the fifth grade.

"Academically, they are doing spectacular," said Michelle MacMillan, the ESOL Specialist at East Lake Elementary, "It’s not just the academics it’s the empowerment that they have. It’s learning about the culture, and it’s about working together."

Colton's classmate and friend Santiago has helped him learn Spanish faster.

"He like just helps me with words," said Colton.

Santiago has enjoyed having small conversations with Colton in Spanish.

"I know that he is learning," said Santiago.

At the same time, Colton is always there to help Santiago with the English language.

"I think it’s wonderful for kids," said Principal William Hennessy. "The second most spoken language in our country right now is Spanish,"

One of Principal Hennessy's goals is to turn East Lake Elementary into a model school for multicultural education.

"Part of my passion for the dual language program is showing my students that I’m also learning Spanish," said Principal Hennessy.

Right now, the program is available at Boggy Creek Elementary School, Chestnut Elementary School, East Lake Elementary School,
Ventura Elementary School, Kissimmee Elementary School, Thacker Avenue Elementary School for International Studies, and Kissimmee Middle School.

Beginning in the 2021-2022 school year, Celebration K-8 School and Lakeview Elementary School will implement the Dual Language Program in Kindergarten and first grade. If you want to learn more about the program or sign your child up, then call your school.

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