Schools in Cumberland County North Carolina are finding that a new dual language immersion program yields higher scores among elementary and middle school students. Language instruction is given along with lessons in social studies and other content areas. The result is that students become fluent readers, thinkers, and speakers in two languages.
Spanish immersion programs are offered at four elementary schools in Cumberland County: E.E. Miller, Howard Hall, W.H. Owen and Morganton Road.
The program was extended to Anne Chesnutt and New Century International middle schools this year.
Dual Language Immersion Program Promotes Skills for 21st Century
The immersion program expands literacy skills in Spanish through social studies at Anne Chesnutt. New Century International students learn Mandarin Chinese along with Spanish.
Officials say the program increases academic achievement and will give students an edge when applying for college or entering the job market.
“We didn’t want them to lose what they had learned,” said Allison Violette, associate superintendent of curriculum, about expanding the program to middle schools. “We try to balance it to make sure they got the content that they needed as middle school students. That was a priority for us.”
The dual language immersion program is taught at the middle schools by English as a second language teachers. Teachers from the Visiting International Faculty program, which is based in Chapel Hill, instruct elementary school students as part of its Splash language immersion program.
“The more you can immerse the students with the language in a subject area the greater the benefit,” said Violette. “Learning a second language early impacts students’ achievement.”
Studies have shown students enrolled in dual languages have higher scores on standardized tests, greater cognitive development, and a broader English vocabulary.
Students enrolled in dual language immersion program at W.H. Owen Elementary School scored 30 points higher on their end of grade tests than their peers who were not enrolled in the program, school officials said in a presentation last month.
Cordero teaches social studies as part of the Spanish immersion program. The class is made up of students who began the immersion program in kindergarten, as well as native Spanish speakers.