Dual language students learn English while retaining Spanish, as they have the advantage of being instructed in both their native language and the new language that they are learning.
At Vinland Elementary School, reading and writing are taught in a student’s native language. The second language is introduced in other subjects. The dual language program is not remedial, it is considered an enrichment. Spanish speaking English language learners are on an equal footing with native English speakers who are learning Spanish.
“Research shows that when students learn in their first language, all of that knowledge and all of those skills transfer to the second language,” said North Kitsap School District’s elementary English language learners coordinator, Martha Little.
There is a 50-50 mix of English language learners and native English speakers in the program. According to Little, when students read and write at grade level in their native language, in as little as four years they can become fluent in a second language.