Dual Language Programs

Thanks to Karen at www.achildgrowsinbrookyn.com for helping me to come up with interesting topics to co-post about.

Parents often want to know if an elementary school has foreign language instruction. Unfortunately, it is rare for a public elementary to have a designated foreign language teacher. Occasionally there may be songs in other languages taught through the music or social studies class, or there may be some language classes through an after-school program. A teacher who is fluent may work a little foreign language awareness into her classroom, but it is not an ongoing program. In middle school the children will be offered language classes usually beginning in the 7th grade, and some may take the proficiency test at the end of 8th grade so that they can enter a slightly more advanced HS class in 9th grade. Often in the smaller middle school programs, Spanish is the language that is offered. A few of the larger schools are able to support a French class as well as a Spanish class. When your child gets to high school depending on the size of the school, the offerings can become very diverse, including Arabic, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Mandarin, Russian and Sign Language.

The exception in elementary school is a dual language program. This is a language immersion program in which half of the class is made up of native speakers in one language and half is native speakers in another language. The day is split with language instruction in both languages for the full class (morning in one language, afternoon in the other) with the goal of creating students who are fluent in both languages. There is a great effort made to be consistent and separate the two languages (each consistently written in its own color ink or on different colored paper). In some schools the same teacher teaches the full day in both languages, in some, two teachers switch off teaching in their own language. The regular on grade curriculum content is covered using both languages. The full immersion may start in kindergarten or 1st grade depending on the school.

District 15 has several dual language programs; the Spanish/English program at PS 24; Spanish/English and Chinese/English at PS 94, and the new French/English program at PS 58. PS 1 has had a program in the past but they were not able to get back to me with current information before I filed this story. Children are assessed for their fluency to be considered for the program. Sometimes a few children from outside of the zone may be allowed to participate to fill out the class. These programs are very popular and there can be waiting lists or lotteries to gain a seat.
For more information:
PS 24
427 38 Street Brooklyn, NY 11232
Parent Coordinator: Tamara Estrella
Phone: (718) 832-9366
PS 94
5010 6 Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11220
Parent Coordinator: Diana Leon-Gonzalez
Phone: (718) 435-6034
PS 58
330 Smith Street Brooklyn, NY 11231
Parent Coordinator: Joan Bredthauer ex: 3
Phone: (718) 330-9322
There is also a lot of information on their website: www.ps58.org

The interest in and richness of these programs is getting attention in other districts as well. PS 307 in district 13 has been studying the Spanish/English and Mandarin/English programs and has been doing community outreach all year in the hopes of opening their classes in the fall of 2009. Call them and speak to Ms. Davenport, the Principal. She is a great spokesperson for the program. PS 46 is also looking into dual language and having a meeting for interested parents on Monday, June 8 at 5:30pm. A group of parents in district 14 is working with the French Embassy to find a partner school for a French/English program there.
P.S. 307 Daniel Hale Williams School
209 York Street Brooklyn, NY 11201
Principal: Ms. Roberta Davenport
Phone: (718) 834-4748
P.S. 46 Edward C. Blum School
100 Clermont Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11205
Phone: (718) 834-7694
Interest meeting, June 8, 5:30-7pm

District 14 parents (or any parents) interested in a French dual language program in Williamsburg should email frenchinwillyburg@gmail.com
and if you feel comfortable include this information:
parents’ name, child’s name, year entering K, email address, phone, zone, district, exposure to French (Anglophone, half-francophone or Francophone)