TUSD dual language program revamped, expanded to east side - Tucson News Now

TUSD dual language program revamped, expanded to east side

The program will start teaching kids Spanish as early as kindergarten, in the hopes they will be bilingual and bi-literate by high school graduation. (Source: Tucson News Now) The program will start teaching kids Spanish as early as kindergarten, in the hopes they will be bilingual and bi-literate by high school graduation. (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

More students in the Tucson Unified School District will get the chance to learn a second language this school year.

For the first time, the district’s dual language program is expanding to the east side.

Previously, the dual language program had only been available at schools on the southwest side.

Some of the 2,100 dual language students had to be bused to one of the 10 schools that offer the program if they wanted to be a part of it. 

Dual Language at TUSD has had its challenges over the years.

District leaders said it’s been a struggle to find qualified teachers who can really immerse students in the Spanish language.

The program at TUSD was audited earlier this year, and one of the things that was found was that the district could do a better job at implementing the program. 

“One of the things that was missing, is that we didn’t really have a plan, a whole plan from kinder all the way to high school,” said Mark Alvarez, language acquisition director for TUSD.

The district has since created a master plan. Their new pilot program will start at Bloom Elementary.

With this new model, 90 percent of instruction will be in Spanish, and students will only get about 30 minutes of English each day.

As students go through elementary to middle school, instruction in English and Spanish will even out.

This will eventually produce graduates who are not only bilingual, but bi-literate.

“There are so many benefits and in our global society, having to learn two languages, it’s a win-win situation all the way around for our children. We want to start them at that age, kinder at five or six years old so that they will have a very successful life of knowing two languages," Alvarez said.

Future third grader Melivella Urbina has been in the dual language program at TUSD since kindergarten.

She’s only seven, but already knows she wants to be a lawyer when she grows up

“You need to know both languages to get a good job,” Urbina said.

And now the class of 2029, just like Urbina, will get that chance too.

Upon high school graduation, students will receive a seal of bi-literacy.  

The hope is that these kids will be more marketable and successful in the future.

“We are living in a global environment where being bilingual is highly valued and sought after,” said Lucinda Brunenkant, Bloom Elementary School’s new principal. “I’m just absolutely thrilled and excited, seriously excited to welcome the new kids and the new families to really get this program started because I really believe in it and I know these kids are going to do well."

There are a few spots left in the kindergarten dual language class at Bloom Elementary, but they are going quickly.

If you’re interested in enrolling your child, or for more information about the program, visit: http://bit.ly/2aC81tG

Copyright 2016 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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