Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Bilingual literacy & learning in Lexington, Ky.

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This is the fourth and final part of our series about what’s going on in great schools near universities whose men’s basketball teams made the Final Four this year. Last but not least, the University of Kentucky, Lexington. The enrollment was about 29,000 in 2012, when the university accepted about 67 percent of its applicants.

The University of Kentucky, looking to better serve its Lexington home, has created a special office that is specifically responsible for seeing to the needs of first-generation college students. Many first-generation students are immigrants from low-income homes where English isn’t the primary language, the Huffington Post noted. Providing assistance to these students means, for schools, helping them master the content they need to learn to get into college.

Enter the latest trend: dual-language instruction.

Some parts of Lexington have become Hispanic-majority communities, and teachers at one elementary school are joining the dual-language party, offering instruction in both English and Spanish for all students, not just the Spanish-speaking ones, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.

“For the first time we are going to be educating our kids in their native language and creating biliterate learners,” the paper quoted first-year principal Matthew Spottswood as saying at Cardinal Valley Elementary School. According to Mr Spottswood, three-fourths of the school’s students are Hispanic, 95 percent receive free or reduced-price meals, and about 400 of the approximately 600 students have language deficiencies in English.

There’s little doubt that fluency in two languages comes in handy when looking for a career, and the purpose of dual-language instruction is to develop literacy and learning for students in both languages, usually English and Spanish.

The basic idea is that kindergarten starts out mostly in Spanish—typically, about 80 percent of the instruction is delivered in Spanish. Then, within about three years, instruction is delivered half in English and half in Spanish, and this continues throughout each child’s elementary school years.

Dual-language instruction in other schools

We have covered these programs with some depth in the following related stories:

Paul Katulahttps://news.schoolsdo.org
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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