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Elementary school starting students early on bilingual track

READ MORE: Elementary school starting students early on bilingual track

One New Hanover County school is adding a little bit of culture to its curriculum. Forest Hills Elementary is the first in our county to add what's called a dual immersion class. It's helping some kindergarteners already learn a second language.

Martine Allison is teaching her kindergarten class in two languages this year. Miss Allison, or as the students call her, Senorita Allison, says it's only day two of school and some kids are already saying hola and como estas.
Twenty spots in her class are now filled with students, who will learn their ABCs, numbers and others skills in both languages. She will alternate each day teaching in English and Spanish.

Allison says the class is made of students who speak Spanish already and others who are new to the language.

"Those Spanish speakers will help our English speaking students, and they will be working together to share insight into each language, and they will learn more about each other, their community and where they come from," she said.

Parents expressed a huge interest in the class, so the school had to use a lottery system to fill the spots in the classroom. Principal Michael Cobb says research shows the bilingual program enables students not only to achieve higher academic success, but also to walk away with greater cognitive and cooperative skills.

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Dear whoever you are, You

Dear whoever you are,

You think that by teaching our American children a different language, we are catering to ILLEGALS (why you have it capitalized I may never know)? Well, that makes a whole lot of sense... NOT... since EVERY spanish speaking person in this world is ILLEGAL right?

Why don't you try to see it from a more optimistic vantage point, in that maybe we are preparing the children for far greater opportunitities down the road. It's so much bigger than ILLEGALS here in our own country. Yes 109 countries may speak english (so you say), but 21 speak spanish:

•Costa Rica
•Dominican Republic
•El Salvador
•Equatorial Guinea
•Puerto Rico

Do you think because there are simply more nations that use english, that should be the only one we teach our students? You'll see that most of the nation's mentioned above are in South America, which as a whole has one of the quickest growing economies in the world. Especially now with the economy in the state it is, after having Obama and his socialist outreaches, don't you maybe think it best to give the children every possible benefit? Go ask ANY employer, and when given the choice between a monolingual person and a bilingual person, they will hire the bilingual one, no questions.

I understand that maybe you think we are being INVADED by illegal immigrants (which really isn't the case). Trust me, I'm sure you and I have the very same level of patriotism, if mine isn't higher. But to base the entire spanish language, or any other language, around a select few or a minority of representation is to make Americans look closed minded and ignorant. But, I'm sure your closed mindedness comes from your background. I'm willing to bet that little international travel has been attempted and that you are only fluent in one language. My argument is coming from someone who has lived in and visited several countries in South American and Europe, and is fluent in Spanish as well.

Do you see at least where I am coming from?

Yes! it's so refreshing to

Yes! it's so refreshing to see a comment on here that doesn't make me frown and say "What are they thinking" or "how did they connect learning spanish with the distruction of America" It's not just about Spanish it's about the benefits of being bilingual. I'm in my 3rd year of French in my High School and man I wish I had had the chance to go to a school like this! What a great opportunity!

I believe in a quality education ,but

I think this is done for the wrong reasons as we all know we have been INVADED for years now from south of the border. To stop or slow it down they signed NAFTA into being. That has actually made it worse in Mexico and therefore we are stuck with more ILLEGALS!

NAFTA calls for our signs and instructions on packaging to be in SPANISH as well as English and in some cases French. We now CATER ourselves to these ILLEGALS. If you don't believe do some research on all the laws they break and even get away with since THEY DO NOT WANT TO UPSET THE HISPANIC COMMUNITIES.

ENGLISH, is more then just the USA. It is spoken in about 109 countries and as official languages. Most business in the world is carried out in ENGLISH.

Anguilla Ireland, Northern Singapore
Antigua and Barbuda Ireland, Republic of Solomon Islands
Australia Jamaica South Africa
Bahamas Kenya Swaziland
Barbados Lesotho Tanzania
Belize Liberia Tonga
Bermuda Malawi Trinidad and Tobago
Botswana Malta Turks and Caicos Islands
British Virgin Islands Mauritius Uganda
Cameroon Montserrat United Kingdom
Canada (except Quebec) Namibia Vanuatu
Cayman Islands New Zealand Wales
Dominica Nigeria Zambia
England Papua New Guinea Zimbabwe
Fiji St. Kitts and Nevis
Gambia St. Lucia
Ghana St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Gibraltar Scotland
Grenada Seychelles
Guyana Sierra Leone

AND I DO NOT believe in the hyphenated American
Either you are or you are not American

Time to STOP all the benefits and catering to ILLEGALS in this country. See if you get all this in MEXICO (for instance)

Making our kids take spanish classes

I agree 100%! We should not make our children learn spanish. This is the US. Go back to your country if you don't want to speak English. I need some help. I am fighting my school district because they are making my 8th grader take a course in spanish. I am mad! They wont switch that class for another subject. I told them I would pick him up for that class and bring him back when its over and they said they will file truancy charges against me! COME ON PEOPLE WAKE UP! We should have a say if we want our children to learn spanish! We keep giving in to them. It will never stop if we don't stand up for ourselves. Can someone please help back me up??

boy, will you be upset if

boy, will you be upset if your 8th grader has a Spanish speaking girlfriend or boyfriend...over the top...

First of all English is NOT

First of all English is NOT the official language of the US, WE DON'T HAVE ONE. I agree people should try and learn English when they move here because it is the most common language but if you are so offended by your 8th grader learning basic spanish that most kids forget soon after the course is over then imagine how other people feel when you tell them they shouldn't be able to live here if they don't speek English... That's hurtful some people have been through a lot and have a right to be in this country. Why do we have a right to live here and not them if they go about it leagally which MANY people do! We cannot and should not bully people out of this country, we all immegrated here at some point or another. Learning a second language improves cognitive development... it's not like everyone is going to learn spanish and then suddenly forget English. I've taken many classes I haven't liked or wanted to take... that's life. And what will never stop? This isn't Avatar, Spanish speekers aren't going to come in and destroy our mother tree.

I'm very conservative, but am in SUPPORT of dual-language

Okay, I must chime in here although I do not "fit" into either of the two camps I see here

First of all, I am very conservative and as "pro-USA", flag-waving, as they come living in the Bible-belt of the good 'ole United States of America. (someone called dual-langauge supporters "Liberal". I have never been called liberal before :)

However, with that said, I am also a HUGE supporter of dual-langauge or immersion programs in the Elementary schools. My impetus is not for the children that can not speak English, but for MY mono-lingual child, for whom I want the best education possible.

I must also add that I see this through "an educator's eyes". I hold a Ph.D. in Early Childhood/Reading Education. I will not pontificate here about all of the cognitive advantages of children participating in dual-language or immersion programs, but there are many. It simply makes the brain "think" in a different way. There is a plethora of longitudinal empirical research to support this. If one is truly interested in the numerous benefits you couls check CAL or CARLA. ALso, it is much, much, easier if done at an early age when when the brain is primed for language acquisition. High school is much too late for many learners. How many people do you know that sat through 3 yrs of high school language and now can't speak a lick (MYSELF included).Learning at the secondary level works for a few, but not for most!

I want the most for my daughter and want her to be able to compete in a global enconomy and thus am extremely interested in her becoming bilingual and biliterate if not multi-lingual and multi-literate.

When I use to teach language development classes to educators I would always start with the old joke...

Q) What do you call a person who speaks 2 langauges? Answer) bilingual

Q) What do you call a person who speaks 3 langusages? Answer) trilingual

Q) What do you call a person who speaks 1 langauge?????

Answer) AMERICAN!!!!!!

We are one of the few educated nation that only teaches our students 1 langauge in the school sysytem. The last statistic I read said that less than 9% of adults in the US are bilingual, compared to 40-60% of other developed nations.

I want my daughter to be able to compete in a GLOBAL society and to have more job choices than being a WalMart greeter or asking "do you want fries with that?" Knowing a second or third langauge WILL help her compete in the job market and even if she NEVER "uses" the second language she will have life-long benefits from the cognitive benefits of learning a second language at an early age.

For me, it has NOTHING to do with "Lil' Pedro" as others suggested. It is about giving my daughter a leg up.

And if you are interested, our language of choice is Mandarin Chinese for Elementary immersion program. However, I would like for her to pick up another language of her choice (Russian, Spanish,Farsi etc) starting in middle school/Jr High. Since Mandarin is our choice it is imperative to start as early as possible since it is a level 4 langauge and very different than romance languages.

As a mom I want the best education for my daughter and as an educator I know the cognitive benefits of learning a second language at an early age.

Okay, I said I would not pontificate, but did anyway..... but wanted to share an oppion as someone who does NOT equate this in any way with border crossings/illegals/etc., (again, I am very conservative)but as an opportunity for USA students to be competitive in a world market.

Xie xie!

What people do not realize

What people do not realize is that our country has never been mono-lingual. Our founding fathers almost made the country’s language German (missed by one vote). Dutch and French were also spoken in the American colonies. The first bilingual program was in the northern Midwest. In fact, there have been bilingual programs in German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Polish, Italian, Czech, French, Spanish, and Chinese in places like Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and St. Louis. The state of Louisiana authorized instruction in French and English, and New Mexico in Spanish and English. The same has happened on Indian Reservations all over the country. The first legal challenge occurred in San Francisco, California concerning a Chinese and English program (Lau vs. Nichols). We are the only first world country in the entire world that insists that instruction only occur in English, and that was when public opinion made it unpopular in the 1930’s.

In 50 years of educational research, dual language programs (when done correctly) have shown to had a statically significant impact on student learning. If one reads the American Educational Research Journal entitled Review of Education Research for June 2010, one would learn that not only do students have significantly higher test scores. They also have higher cognitive and cooperative skills.


I think all the people against this are missing the point. Spanish is spoken as the official language in over 20 different countries. English.. 4. By our children learning to speak Spanish isn't "helping lil' Pedro" live for free, nor is it supporting illegal immigration. It's to better educate them in one of the most predominate languages on Earth.
It's 2010, put the prejudice and ignorance in the closet.

..and those countries are SOOOO important!

Your child would do far better learning to speak Chinese, Korean, Japanese, German, or even French if you are truly concerned about your child's success in the coming years. Despite NAFTA, Central America "ain't all that." That's why they want to come here - most are Third World ratholes! (Remember, too, that the BIG player in South America speaks Portugese.)

No...the not-so-secret goal is to make the United States a welcome haven for the invaders from the South. In addition to helping those anchor babies, you want to brainwash the native children at an early age. Teach them to accept the invasion as simply a natural course of human events. If you indoctrinate them in kindergarten, then by the time they are learning about our Constitution and the legal path to citizenship, they can reject our laws, outright. In your children's generation, will there evem BE borders?

(Of cours, if your child has expressed an interest in law enforcement, learning to speak Spanish would provide a useful career tool.)

wow..... I can't believe

I can't believe what you wrote. It's so close minded and you make your self sound extremely uneducated. You know immigration into the US is not easy... and the only reason you weren't born as a "third world ratehole" -your words NOT mine, is because of luck. You and I are very fortunate to have been born in the US, but don't make the mistake of thinking that makes you better then the rest of the world. There is a mix bad people and good, beautiful people in Central America just like here in the US.

Nope; you miss the point

were this started to educate students in Sapnish skills, that would be one thing.

BUT, this was started due to the increase in non-English speaking students.

Let their parents cover the expense of teaching little Pancho or Dora to speaka de Eglish. But then, if the Parents spoke fluent English, so would the children.

But, if as another Poster noted, Chinese is becoming the dominant language in the world economy, should they not be teaching Chinese?

And frankly, isn't the age of 5 a tad early to start children entering their first year of kindergarden? It seems it would be challenging enough for them to make the transition from the sheltered nest of home to the group environment of the classroom.

The Wilmington larger

The Wilmington larger metropolitan area is so full of closed-minded insular people who can't tolerate those who are different. It's not only the native W'tonionans; those who came and stayed (for the beach, hah!) are as closed-minded and insular as others.

Forget the intolerance of Hispanics for whatever ignorant reason; it includes all the monor biotries with one side versus another: north/south, black/white. Brunsick/New Hanover, Hampstead/Burgaw, historic downtown/Autumn Hall for Christ's sake.

I've seen it in a small way in other places, but in the W area it filters to the schools because it seems so important to the parents that they teach it to their kids. Then the schools have these ignorant alliances of children squaring off. Intolerant, bigoted po' folk now matter how much nmoney they have.

This is a fantastic idea. I

This is a fantastic idea. I wish that this had been around when I was in Kindergarten and I hope that it will continue until I have children. People who are opposed to this idea are entitled to their opinion but the truth is that it is their children who will be missing out. As the principal said, it has been proven time and time again that learning a different language has many benefits for a child's academic and personal development.


Research shows that students who are in dual immersion programs are more likely to excel, both in school and later in life. It saddens me that parents would let ignorance and prejudice get in the way of their children learning another language and learning about other cultures. The rampant ignorance in this country is appalling and without programs like these our children will never grow to be understanding, open-minded, worldly adults.

Is your ignorance and prejudice so much that you would oppose your child being a part of a program that could benefit them greatly in their future? Does it terrify you so much that your child might learn a language that you don't speak?

This class was not created using more tax dollars, a Kindergarten class was needed for these 20 students and just happens to be a bilingual immersion one. The only reason everyone screams "THIS IS AMERICA, LEARN ENGLISH!!!" and other nonsense is because people fear the unknown and what is not familiar. There is a Mandarin-English program like this in Chapel Hill where students are learning Mandarin (Chinese) as a second language. Would it be better for all of you if your child learned a language that wasn't shared by our county's largest immigrant population? The ignorance of today's world will never cease to amaze me.

I feel sorry for those of you who have spent your sheltered lives living in this area without experiencing another culture. Wake up. It's 2010. Let's give our children the chance to grow up in a place where cultural diversity is embraced and where this disgusting cycle of ignorance can be broken with programs like these.

So what if your kid comes home saying "Hola" and "Como estás"? It was cuter when they only said it back to Dora sitting in front of the TV at home, right? What will the other moms think of your child speaking Spanish? Oh no! They might judge you! That is what it all boils down to right? Ignorance and prejudice are very strong and I see that sickening levels of both reek havoc still today.

To those of you that oppose this program due to your ignorance and prejudice: Get a clue.

The arrogance of the left

I think YOU need to buy a clue. Those of us who want to eliminate illegal immigration and oppose attempts to make life oh-so-wonderful for them and their anchor babies are in no way "ignorant." That word is so overused by liberals that it is now totally ineffective.

Please note that I in no way believe that YOU are ignorant. I simply believe that you are INTENTIONALLY advocating the destruction of America as we knew it.

Funny because "The

Funny because "The distruction of America as we know it" is how the Indians felt when we invaded, or did you forget this land wasn't ours to begin with. News flash the world is constantly evolving, just because people are learning spanish doesn't mean English is dieing or that America is being destroyed... this isn't avatar after all. There are many benefits to being bilingual including better cognitive function and higher success in other accademics like math. But hey you don't have to learn Spanish, just don't stop others and decide what is right for us and our children. You put your children in English only schools and I'll put mine in a dual immersion school and we'll see whose kids are more successful in life.

Thumbs Up/ Dedos arriba

I just want to say that I am glad to see that not all of america has their head stuck in the sand. I was so glad to read the comments made that supported our kids learning multi-languages and put them up there with the rest of the world. For those that are against this type education, when our children graduate college, we will have them come back and get yours out of the unemployment line, and teach them how to succeed by being an educated individual.So what if they will be behind about 20 or more years. Every ounce of education you can get is a valuable resource and should never be turned down or discriminated against. It may one day save your life!

If speaking multiple

If speaking multiple languages is so important, why has Mexico not taught English in their schools? I also wonder if they teach Spanish in other English-speaking countries, such as Australia, Great britain and Canada? What about other countries, such as Germany, Italy, and France? Do they teach Spanish? Doubtful. I feel sure that Japan and China teach English, but Spanish? Doubtful again. And, to the "lily-footed" gal, no, WE are not the ignorant ones.

oh so now we are supposed to

oh so now we are supposed to follow Mexicos lead? yes lets do everything Mexico is doing... come on. And you know what surprise Australia, Great Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, and China don't share a huge boarder with Mexico. They are OUR neighbors so maby we should be able to communicate with them. And other countries in Europe DO teach the languages of their neighboring countries in their schools.

They should learn to read in English First

We should teach our kids how to read and write in English first, learning any foreign language at this age wont help if they cant even read a book or do basic math to make it through high school. That's all we need more frustrated kids unprepared and dropping out of school turning to robbing banks, dealing drugs and adding to the crime we already have no control over. Maybe the schools will start holding classes free of charge to teach everyone how to take advantage of the US the home now of the broke, clueless,and free giving of everything. People come here from foreign countries because they know they can get a free ride and there's a big group of US citizens there to back them up with there speeches about we're all people we should help everyone they deserve a chance blah blah blah. What a bunch of CRAP.

If the true plan was to make them bi-lingual....

...we could simply continue what worked for many, many years: Teaching one of several languages in high school. Whatever happened to "three years of a foreign language" as a requirement for an academic diploma? It was a routine that in ninth grade a student chose between Sanish, Latin, Italian, French, or German. Some schools even offered Russian.

I guess that went the way of history, economics, and phys ed. No time for those "unessential subjects." Plus, we can achieve higher test scores by eliminating the really hard subjects!

No, this has nothing to do with making the children bi-lingual. This has everything to do with welcoming our new amigos and helping the little anchor babies overcome the difficulties of growing up in a household where mom and dad "No hablan Ingles." Ten bucks says that before the end of the semester, they can all sing "Kumbaya" in Spanish! That's important....

Just more of our giving away America.

The Appalling Ignorance of You People

To all you people who think having them spanishters talking spanish in America is a good idea, all i can say is that you are all borderline racist and ignorant against white persons in general. I say if you want to talk spanish go back to spain.

"I say if you want to talk

"I say if you want to talk spanish go back to spain." -and WE're the racists? How about taking a good look at yourself before accusing others. How about this: If you want to speek English go back to England. According to you we should all be speeking Native American dialects... great...


That is one lottery I would WANT my child not to win. I don't understand why Spanish has to be forced down our throats. I understand this country was founded on immigration but that was HUNDREDS of years ago. Our country is too free to those who choose to come here and not free enough to those of us BORN here.

So You Would Rather Your Child Fall Behind?

Like it or not, them becoming bilingual is absolutely NECESSARY to ensure a competitive future. A quick click onto Monster, Craigslist or Career will show job ads that request spanish speaking/bilingual job appicants ONLY!

Anyone who has attempted to master a second language in High School knows that the attempt is too little, TOO Late! Simply put, it much easier for young agile minds to absorb a new lanquage.

As much as I hate illegal immigration and it's hold on the country and our way of life, I would much rather my niece (I don't have any children) be prepared to face life's changes and not hide as so many of us seem to do.


"becoming bilingual is absolutely NECESSARY"...the left wing nut jobz making stuff up again? I am very successful...and all I speak is English and BS...

To Guest 7969

I am not a "left winger." LOL. I am actually quite conservative. I am just telling you what I see, and what I see written in the vast majority of job postings is bilingual applicants wanted, spanish speaking a plus. I for one, wish to heck, I was bi or multi-lingual.


Most of the posts on this article are so ignorant! Not all immigrants are illegal. Illegal immigration happened in 1492. I am a white female who is very adept to accepting this. Dainty white feet were not the first to touch this soil, so GET OVER YOURSELVES! I think it is a GREAT idea that schools are teaching other languages and other cultures to our children at an early age. I am a fan of spanish being taught as well as any other language in the school system. I would love for my child to be well-rounded in every way scholastically speaking. You people need to get your heads out of the backwoods and out your cracks and realize that this country is a melting pot of all different individuals.

get educated then

Then you need to go get some of that education you talk of,if you think settling in the new world by newcomers is called illegal immigration. This WAS NOT a country of one nation at that time and it was a time of discovery. There were Native Americans here,YES. But they too were divided into smaller nations of their own at that time.

Most of the world today uses ENGLISH as the language for most businesses.
Anguilla Ireland, Northern Singapore
Antigua and Barbuda Ireland, Republic of Solomon Islands
Australia Jamaica South Africa
Bahamas Kenya Swaziland
Barbados Lesotho Tanzania
Belize Liberia Tonga
Bermuda Malawi Trinidad and Tobago
Botswana Malta Turks and Caicos Islands
British Virgin Islands Mauritius Uganda
Cameroon Montserrat United Kingdom
Canada (except Quebec) Namibia Vanuatu
Cayman Islands New Zealand Wales
Dominica Nigeria Zambia
England Papua New Guinea Zimbabwe
Fiji St. Kitts and Nevis
Gambia St. Lucia
Ghana St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Gibraltar Scotland
Grenada Seychelles
Guyana Sierra Leone
There are apporximately 109 countries that speak and use the English language.

I am for learning. Do not get me wrong. But why IS IT SPANISH? One reason is NAFTA!