Friday, May 22, 2009

A School Near You?

I like to get updates on where public schools are opening up to and growing their dual language programs.

Here's a recent article about the progress of a school in Johnston County, NC:

SES reviews progress of Spanish/English program

Selma Elementary School is one of 21 other schools in North Carolina, and the only one in Johnston County, to have a first grade class and two kindergarten classes taught every other day in Spanish and English, according to the school’s program sponsor company Splash! CEO Alan Young, who spoke in the school’s cafeteria Thursday night, March 26.

SES administration welcomed interested parents of rising kindergarteners to inform and answer questions about its Spanish/English Dual Language Immersion Program, an educational program designed to teach students in two languages, which is entering its third year.

The school has one of the highest Hispanic student populations in Johnston County, and it is a program, Young said, that is proven to help students of all backgrounds perform higher on standardized tests.

The program currently has 60 students. In each of the dual language classes, there are 50 percent native English speaking children, and 50 percent Spanish speaking students. There are 70 families, according to SES social worker Kristen Percy, who have filled out applications for the program.

Young was there along with SES administration and other Splash! – a company located in Chapel Hill that provides schools across N.C. with bilingual education programs -- to talk about how first grade and kindergarten students currently in the program were performing in class by showing a video. (Read more)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Triumph Over Autism Bilingually

Something I've been mulling over is what to do with my son in teaching him Spanish. We were advised to teach him English only for now, so that he's learning the same terms for things at school, with his therapists, and at home with us.

I'm so used to doing the bilingual method* with my girls that I have to stop myself with my son. But deep down inside I don't think exposing him to Spanish will confuse him. It's just hard to know because he's not saying any words.

*speaking English and Spanish side by side. For example, "Are you thirsty? ¿Tienes sed?"

I came across this article about a little girl the doctors said would never speak, yet now she's bilingual!


Little Laura Cuthbert's parents were delighted when she learned to speak after doctors warned she would never talk properly.

But it was nothing to the couple's joy when their autistic daughter astounded experts by becoming BILINGUAL- chatting away in English AND Spanish.

The nine-year-old's amazing achievement is a tribute to the devotion of mum Gill and dad Dave, who refused to accept predictions that she would never have a normal life.

Gill, 43, said: "The doctors said she would probably spend most of her time in an institution. Now we have a happy daughter who never stops talking - in two languages. (Read more)

The parents used a therapy call the Son-Rise Programme. I decided to look more into this program and wrote about it in Jaden's Travels.

**As this post becomes old, the source for this article may be archived or removed.

Friday, May 8, 2009

TV and Professor Pocket

Last year my oldest daughter started a dual language school. It was such an exciting time for us because after much searching, disappointments, and prayer, she's finally in a dual-language learning environment.

It's fantastic that more and more public schools and districts are offering dual language schools and programs.

At my daughter's school, she has an English teacher and a Spanish teacher. One day she's in English world and the next day Spanish world (el mundo de español.)

She seems to be enjoying her time there. One of my concerns was would she be able to keep up with the other children in her class since she didn't do kindergarten there. But that didn't turn out to be a problem at all. Her teachers are impressed with how much Spanish she knows. They love her enthusiasm for learning the language and her courage for speaking Spanish.

One teacher told me that she asked my daughter, "How do you know all of this Spanish. Who speaks Spanish to you at home?" My daughter told her that she learned from TV and Professor Pocket. So, the teacher said she had to ask me if I speak Spanish. I said I know just enough to teach them the basics, but I'm not a fluent speaker.

Then she wanted to know what we're doing at home. I told her about the lessons we do, songs we sing, and shows we watch during our Spanish time.

It's certainly possible for monolingual parents to teach their children Spanish. We're doing it and so can you.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Keeping the Spanish Alive!

Well, hello everybody...I'm back!

And Sarah I can totally relate to how easy it is for 5 or 6 months to pass by without reading, writing, or doing anything with blogs.

Along with starting a children's ministry at my church, dealing with a child's (then children) illnesses, my Mom in and out of the hospital, and driving my children to and from school, another big adjustment for my family and I is having 2-3 therapists come into our home 6 days a week for 3-4 hours to work with our son. I also take him to school for 2 hours in the morning.

You might remember in one of my e-newsletters, I mentioned that his speech was delayed. Well, in August or so, he was diagnosed with PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified). At the moment he's not saying any words and, according to the dr., demonstrates some characteristics of autism. I started a blog about it called Jaden's Travels.

I thought long and hard about whether to close my blog and bid every one "adieu" or should I say "adiós." But then I saw that there are 2 people following my blog. That really encouraged me to get it going again. ¡Muchas gracias!

And the desire for my children to be bilingual never went away. So, here's to overcoming challenges and keeping the Spanish alive!