District 200 dual-language program grows
Eight years after it began, Woodstock School District 200’s dual-language program continues to attract interest from within and outside Woodstock.
Enrollment has grown from 51 students in 2004 to 1,140 for the 2011-12 school year.
Keely Krueger, director of grants, world languages and culture, presented an update on the dual-language program to the D-200 Board of Education at its April 10 meeting.
Dual-language is a voluntary program in which native English and native Spanish speakers are taught in both languages. Students enter the program as kindergartners and continue on, through the eighth grade and, as of next year, into high school.
While the instructional mix changes somewhat as students advance through the grades, the English/Spanish mix is about 50/50. Science is always taught in Spanish, math is always taught in English and social studies switches back and forth, year to year. Literacy is taught in both languages.
When the program expands into high school next year, students may take two dual-language classes each year, for a total of eight. The classes will include AP Spanish language and AP Spanish literacy, Chicano Studies and additional courses that will be added as students age through the program.
“It’s very difficult to find certified content area teachers that have (Spanish) fluency,” said Krueger. “We’ll treat it year by year.”
Students who complete all eight dual-language classes will receive a special cord to wear with their commencement robe. The Class of 2016 will be the first to have dual-language graduates.
“Because many of these kids will take another language in high school, there’s the potential for them to come out of high school trilingual. To be bilingual is huge, trilingual is amazing,” said Superintendent Ellyn Wrzeski.
The program will start next year at Woodstock North High School and the year after at Woodstock High School. Also new next year is a half-day prekindergarten dual-language program at Verda Dierzen Early Learning Center.
“Just like rolling up to high school, we’re rolling it down to our 4-year-olds to prepare them for kindergarten,” Krueger said.
Total projected enrollment for all dual language programs for 2012-13 is 1,402, amounting to a quarter of the district’s enrollment.
“We have 25 percent of our students learning in two languages. Most people can’t believe it’s so large,” Krueger said.
The program also includes out-of-class cultural components, such as a folkloric dance group that began in November at the middle schools, funded through a grant from the Woodstock Rotary.
In March, nine middle school dual-language students spent two weeks in Spain, visiting Barcelona, Grenada and La Herradura. In addition to visiting historical and cultural sites, the students attended classes at Navalmoral de la Mata, D-200’s sister school. The students and their parent chaperones stayed with host families, providing an opportunity to immerse themselves in Spanish language and culture.
“We hope to host some of the kids from Spain here next year,” Krueger said.