Saturday, December 26, 2009

Dual Language Program Gets Approved in Austin Independent School District

Click here for viewing of the complete video

Please take a look at the recent developments in the approval of a dual language program in the Austin Public Schools. Please take a look at the video as well as catch up a little on the written description of the program as written by Amy Johnson of KUVE in Austin.The full article can be referenced here.  Expectant enrollment in the new dual language program in Hoboken is expected to exceed 100 students. -Dr. Petrosino


The Austin Independent School District is making a dramatic change in the way it educates some students who speak Spanish, but not much English.  Monday night, the school board approved dual language programs which would start next year.

Up until now, the focus had been on bilingual programs with the thought being it builds up student's self-esteem to learn in their native language, and then slowly learn English.  With the dual language program, students will have to be proficient in both languages.  Which now opens the door for English speaking kids to be become proficient in Spanish at a very young age.

The Magellan International School in North Austin is a small private school which opened in August.  Maria Isabel Leon is the head of school.

"There was a big demand for a school like this is Austin," she said.

The children at Magellan, half of whom come from families who don't speak any Spanish, are immersed in a dual language program.  By 3rd grade, they are expected to be fluent in English and Spanish.  In 3rd grade, they start the language component, Mandarin.

"I think educators everywhere are realizing that having languages introduced -- or second languages introduced -- in the high school level is a bit late," she said.

The Magellan International School was the only option for Austin parents until Monday night, when the AISD school board voted to implement its own dual language pilot program.

"I think the research clearly documents that this is a good way to do it," said Robert Schneider, board member.

Starting in the 2010 school year, up to six Austin Elementary Schools would implement dual language programs.  Three would focus on both English and Spanish speakers becoming fluent in both languages.  Three would be so-called one way dual language, where the class would be made-up of Spanish speaking students who would focus on being fluent in both languages.

But the addition of this program doesn't come without concerns.  The district is facing a $15 million to $20 million budget shortfall for next year.