Valley students enjoy, thrive in dual-language programs

The Kyrene School District is about to launch its popular dual language classrooms in another school.

Kyrene de Los Lagos will offer dual language kindergarten instruction for the 2014-2015 school year.

The program has been offered at Kyrene de Los Ninos for the past four years.

The school had seen a drop in enrollment and had to find new ways to attract parents and students.

Students from the pilot program are now in the third grade and speaking fluent Spanish.

“I like this because it's teaching me a new language so I can communicate with more people.” said Cade Banks, a dual language student.

In the morning, instruction is in English, but in the afternoon teachers and students switch to an Spanish-only format. 

“When I walk into a third-grade classroom, it is like walking into a Spanish 9,10 in high school level which is a college credit classroom,” describes Los Ninos Principal Tonja Yalung.

When Kyrene de los Ninos first offered the course 40 students enrolled, now half of the school’s classrooms are taught in both English and Spanish, and there’s a waiting list.

“That showed us here, that it was sought out- so we're taking this show on the road. We're going to put it in other places,” said Yalung.

The school district is now holding informational meetings for parents at Kyrene de Los Lagos to learn more about the program and how it will work.

Parent Shannon Bates was concerned how struggling students might adapt. But by the end of the meeting, she was sold that this is the program for her daughter.

“I think it's going to be very challenging for her. To be learning the English side, which we all know can be very difficult, especially in kindergarten where you’re learning to write it and then also learning the Spanish side of things, I think it's going to be challenging and that's a good thing,” said Bates.

Most of the students taking dual language at Kyrene de los Ninos strive on the challenge.

Student Cade Banks even pleads with his parents to keep him in the dual language classrooms.

“They keep talking about me going to another school but I'm like 'keep me in this I love it,"" he said.

Isabella Horton agrees with her fellow student, “I don't want to go to the English-only class because it seems to me that it's kind of easy.” 

“I think it's pretty good to know two languages,” adds Aryielle Vaquera who loves to show off her Spanish skills with long-distance relatives.

The program is open enrollment meaning it is open to students from all districts.

Another parent meeting will be held next week on May 13 at 1:00 p.m. at Kyrene de Los Lagos.

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