Kendall-Whittier Elementary will transition from a one-way dual language school to a two-way dual language school in the fall of the 2020-2021 school year. Principal Ronda Kesler is excited to provide all students an opportunity to learn multiple languages.
“Our dual language kiddos are leaving Kendall-Whittier very close to being fully biliterate,” said Ronda. “Once they learn to read and write in their native language, research shows it’s easier for them to learn another language.”
Currently, students in the school’s one-way dual language program are 100% Spanish dominant speakers and learn in both English and Spanish.
For the past couple of years, Kendall-Whitter has had five classes for each grade level. Three of those classes would learn the curriculum in English. The other two would be made up of Spanish speaking students who learn in both Spanish and English. The higher the grade level, the more exposure to both languages the students receive.
Due to the high level of success with the program, starting this fall, Kendall-Whittier will expand the program. All pre-K and kindergarten classrooms will become dual language classrooms.
Every year, the two-way dual language program will expand a grade. Eventually, Kendall-Whittier will become the district’s first two-way dual language pre-K through 5th grade neighborhood school.
This means every Kendall-Whittier student will have the opportunity to be bilingual before they move on to middle school.
“Not only are we offering the opportunity to become bilingual and biliterate but for the students to become bicultural,” said Kendall-Whittier’s academic support coordinator Gracye McCoy. “All of our students live in this neighborhood together, and it’s important for them to be exposed to other cultures and become more familiar with each other.”
The goal is to create an environment of non-stop learning and student collaboration. Students will all be simultaneously learning both languages and will be able to help each other consistently practice.
Both Ronda and Gracye agreed that research shows it is easier to become bilingual at an earlier age. They also believe that even if students do not continue to practice the second language upon finishing at Kendall-Whittier, there will be everlasting benefits.
“They will always keep the benefits of having a bilingual brain,” said Gracye. “It’s going to help them cross both hemispheres, help them with multi-tasking, and give them different ways to approach problems.”
For more information on the dual language program expansion, click here.