Dual-language program good new learning experience

The ability to speak one or more non-native languages is becoming increasingly important because of societal connections that are increasingly global, and the ability to bridge cultures in communities with shifting demographics.

Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. has traditionally provided such opportunities by offering foreign languages in higher grades, and English as a Second Language to students whose first language is Spanish, Mandarin or something else.

Beginning with the 2018-19 school year, though, the school district will take foreign-language learning a step further by offering a dual-language immersion program at Clifty Creek Elementary School.

The voluntary program, to which families would have to apply, would allow prekindergarten and kindergarten students to learn in a bilingual classroom. Classes would be composed of half native Spanish speakers and half native English speakers. Students would be taught English by a native Spanish speaker, and students would be immersed in Spanish for most of the day.

Bartholomew Consolidated has even received a $50,000 grant from the Indiana Department of Education to fund the program.

We support this new program, and if successful hope it expands to other schools in the district.

“Preparing students with opportunities to learn to communicate by multiple methods and in multiple languages prepares them for the 21st century world in which we live,” said Jennifer McCormick, Indiana superintendent of public instruction.

We agree.

Columbus, for example, has taken on a greater international flavor over the past few decades with a growing number of foreign companies establishing operations in the city, and employees from the home country relocating here. Some other companies have drawn employees to Columbus from across the globe to meet their business needs.

Clifty Creek and Taylorsville elementary schools have large Latino populations, so starting the dual-language immersion program at Clifty Creek makes sense. The program will go a long way in helping Bartholomew Consolidated ensure that kids struggling with the language barrier get the help they need to succeed.

The program will provide a great opportunity for some students to expand their learning in a new way. We hope families take advantage of it.