How One School Handles Dual Language Education

As part of KERA’s Generation One series, Stella Chavez looks into how one school handles both Spanish and English language education.

By Stella M. ChavezMarch 13, 2015 10:26 am,

One morning, Teresa Martin’s kindergarten students gather on the carpet for storytime. She reads a book in Spanish about Thanksgiving.

She stops and asks a question.”When I read, what’s the objective?”

A girl, Brianna, raises her hand. Martin calls on her.

“We’re supposed to listen to you read so we can ask each other questions about the story,” Brianna says.

Martin tells her students to form small groups and talk about the book. The kids pair up and do just that – in Spanish.

The goal is to get these Spanish-speaking kids to learn English. But to speak English well, you need to master Spanish first, educators say.

At Bowie Elementary in Grand Prairie and beyond, schools have been turning to what’s called dual language classes. At Bowie, the classes are popular: Half the students are what’s known as English language learners.

In Texas, one in three children has a parent who’s an immigrant – or they’re immigrants themselves. They have to learn a new language, adapt to a different culture and try to fit into a community that may not embrace newcomers.

KERA’s American Graduate: Generation One series follows these first-generation Texans and the educators weaving them into the American tapestry. We’ll be featuring their stories, all this week on Texas Standard.