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Minneapolis schools will offer Spanish-language classrooms for native speakers next year

Posted: May 02, 2012

 Here are the elephant’s fosas nazales, third grade Andersen Elementary teacher Michelle Fonseca says, in Spanish. (Nostrils.)

He has a trompa (trunk), which one third-grader says he can use to “agarrar comida para poner en la boca.” (Grab food to put in his mouth.)

His orejas (ears) are largas (long), says one student, and suaves (soft), says another. Each writes his or her own description, in Spanish, of the estructuras (structures) that make up the elephant.

Ms. Fonseca’s students learn in Spanish half the day, in English the other half. Andersen is the first of a growing list of Minneapolis schools that next year will offer full-day classrooms dedicated solely to helping native Spanish-speaking kids become academically bilingual.

This is Andersen’s second year offering a Developmental One-Way Dual Language program, or DDL. Approximately half the school’s students sit in traditional classrooms taught in English, and the rest sit in bilingual classrooms where for at least half the day instruction is delivered in students’ native Spanish. DDL is available only to students who speak Spanish at home.

According to the district’s ELL instruction framework (see attached PDF), research shows that using students’ home languages in class allows for more rigorous instruction. The plan says that home language instruction “helps to avoid the disengagement and sense of irrelevancy that leads to current high rates of school non-completion among English Learners.” Read more.

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