This dual language program, while following an immersion standard, is quite unique in its attempt: the program wishes to have students fluent in Spanish and English or English and Diné, a Navajo language by the time they graduate high school. The students begin learning the second language in kindergarten, with a gradual increase in the use of the second language with every school year. By fourth grade, students will have a school day that is 50% in English and 50% in the chosen second language.
Interestingly, this program is not limited to Native American students. That is, students do not need to have Native background to learn the language. On the other hand, students of Native descent now have the opportunity to learn their heritage language in an educational community which supports the second language.
While this program is still in its infancy, the district hopes to expand to neighboring schools. For right now, the Farmington Municipal school district encourages, “students from outside the McCormick and Apache school boundaries [to] enroll in the classes,” thus expanding this particular education program beyond district lines.
At TWIN-CS, we are very aware of the long-term benefits of a dual language education and have been a part of this supportive community for many years, but it is always promising to see other schools attempting a similar education program. The Farmington Municipal school district also reminds us that there are other languages that can be learned in a bilingual setting, such as native languages, that may benefit heritage language learners.
As educators, we love learning about other school districts and their accomplishments!
Please continue to follow the blog to hear more about developing heritage language programs!
-Melissa Hoppie. Graduate Student Researcher