Bilingual and English Second Language (ESL) programs in elementary school have long been established in the Clear Creek Independent School District (CCISD). The bilingual program was originally developed to support the linguistic and academic needs of Spanish-speakers, while the ESL program was developed to support speakers of other languages. As the number of Vietnamese, Urdu, and Mandarin-speaking students increased, CCISD developed additional bilingual and native language support programs for these languages.
Traditionally, the focus of all these programs was on meeting the policy set by the Texas Education Agency in servicing English language learners; however, in 2004, a paradigm shift occurred at McWhirter Elementary. The Estrellas Two-Way Immersion program was launched. In this program, English and Spanish-speakers share a classroom and receive instruction in both languages. Students are able to learn from each other, share cultures, engage in authentic language acquisition, and excel in an enrichment model of bilingual education. The students who began the program in 2004 are now in 7th grade and continue receiving instruction in both languages in the Estrellas Intermediate Program at Clear Creek Intermediate School.
As a district, we are entering into another exciting period of offering even more language learning opportunities at the elementary school level. Brookwood will become the district’s fifth Spanish-English bilingual campus in the 2012-2013 school year. Bilingual classes will be offered in PK-5, and a Foreign Language Enrichment Program will be offered to entering Kindergarten students. This program will combine Spanish and English-speaking students for part of the school day, with students receiving science instruction in Spanish and math instruction in English.
Stewart Elementary, an established bilingual campus, will begin a dual language program in the 2012-2013 school year. Students entering Kindergarten are eligible to apply for this program, in which English and Spanish-speaking students will receive instruction in both languages based on a model which implements a language of the day for instruction.
This is an extremely exciting time for CCISD as we continue to grow linguistic opportunities for our students. Research from the Center for Applied Linguistics cites a variety of benefits to second language acquisition, such as a positive effect on intellectual growth, flexibility in thinking, and enriching and enhancing cognitive development. While these are important benefits, the philosophy of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages may best exemplify why these linguistic enrichment models are so powerful: Language and communication are at the heart of the human experience. The United States must educate students who are linguistically and culturally equipped to communicate successfully in a pluralistic American society and abroad.
We are excited to prepare students for the human experience that occurs beyond the school door.
Director of Instructional Services for ELLS
Read more on this subject at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/opinion/sunday/the-benefits-of-bilingualism.htm?_r=1&scp=1&sq=bilingual&st=Search