Waco ISD introduces new dual, bilingual learning environments

Waco ISD introduces new dual, bilingual learning environments
Posted at 3:54 PM, Nov 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-12 22:49:07-05

The Waco Independent School District has implemented new classrooms at Alta Vista Elementary and Brook Avenue Elementary called the PreK 3 Classroom. 

What separates these classes from others is that these students, mostly 3-year-olds, are getting the chance to learn a different language. 

Brook Avenue highlights a dual-language program where the class is filled with half native English speaking students and half native Spanish speaking students. By putting the two together, the kids have a chance to learn a different language and become a dual-language speaking student. 

Alta Vista has a bilingual classroom in which Spanish speaking students are put in an environment where they are taught English to continue through the rest of Waco ISD classes with ease. 

Alta Vista Principal Karmen Logan says it's important to start teaching kids multiple languages at a young age. 

"We want to catch these kids as early as they can to build up their language skills to get them caught up with their English speaking peers," Logan said. 

Even though the PreK 3 classes started this year, Grace Benson, the Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education, says the students are already showing a noticeable change. 

"Using it academically," Benson said. "We're seeing inter-personally they're developing those relationships as well one of the beauties of bilingual programs is the relationship children develop with their peers." 

It doesn't stop at just learning the language, but the culture as well. 

"They're also able to learn more about the United States," Benson said. "They're able to learn all of the customs." 

When the students came into the classroom it was quickly realized that not all students are the same. So, teacher Rosemarie Sierra and teaching aide Maria Monroy created lesson plans specific to each student making sure no one is left behind. 

"A lot of students proficiency levels varied very differently," Logan said. "And how much English that they did know so the teacher does whole group lessons and then individualized in small groups." 

Benson is a dual language speaker herself. She is left speechless by what these kids accomplish in the classroom. 

"It's so powerful," Benson said. "I mean its so hard to put into words the positive effect it has on a child's trajectory as they got through the academic careers and then the professional careers as adults."

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