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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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A guest wrote: "You people

A guest wrote: "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."

Gee, the only person I see with a head up their ar$e around here is YOU. You have the gall to call others ignorant?

Like it or not, English is the predominant language in this country. Like it or not, some of us appreciate American culture as we know it too.

May I warmly suggest that you take your Euro-centric invader polemic and store it someplace very dark.


smart butt!...why not Japanese...Chinese or French...WHY spanish? It's to force feed our children this crap started with Dora as a cutesy way of introducing it...NO THANK YOU...if you want to deal in the business sector...JAPANESE is what you want to learn...and if we keep it up...Chinese.

Then why not

mirror the laws South of the Border?

YOu want to emigrate to Mexico? Be fluent in Spanish before you cross the border.

You want to emigrate to Mexico? Have a letter of clearance and reference from your local police department before you cross the border.

You want to emigrate to Mexico? Have a Mexican citizen sponsor you before you cross the border?

You want to emigrate to Mexico? Have a job waiting for you before you cross the border.

You want to emigrate to Mexico, understand you can not own real estate.

You want to emigrate to Mexico? Have the equivalent of 2000 times the daily wage rate for your chosen profession before you xross the border.

If Mexico does not sponsor English/Spanish classes to assist emigrants in adapting to their society; why should the US or New Hanover County do otherwise?

Let's see your backwoods response to those questions after you pull your head out of your crack.

yes they are

You must remember that most of the people commenting will never leave the NC area... Most have lived here their entire lives and haven't seen any other culture nor will they ever due to low incomes and lack of education.

I love traveling and seeing how the rest of the world lives. The people of the USA are nothing special at all once you see how well other cultures live. Get over yourselves.

Guesthummy wrote: "You must

Guesthummy wrote:

"You must remember that most of the people commenting will never leave the NC area... Most have lived here their entire lives and haven't seen any other culture nor will they ever due to low incomes and lack of education.

I love traveling and seeing how the rest of the world lives. The people of the USA are nothing special at all once you see how well other cultures live. Get over yourselves."

And, what's wrong with never leaving or for that matter wanting to leave NC? Why do you demean the folks who don't want to?? As to your suggestion that I am uneducated, go f... your ignorant elitist self.

The people of our United States are not special, they are spectacular. It is you who needs to get over yourself. If you are so talented, go and move to Manhattan and join the 92nd Street Y where you will find plenty of kindred spirits.... IF YOU CAN AFFORD TO.

"The people of our United

"The people of our United States are not special, they are spectacular"
Just because we lucked out and were born in the US doesn't mean we are automatically better then the people straving and struggeling to live in the Sudan. We should share our good fortune not make the mistake of thinking it makes us superier than the rest of the world... with ideas like that no wonder some people in other countries are hostil towards Americans.

Why ??

Spend the taxpayers money on teaching our children to
Speak Spanish .
Here is an idea, teach the burdens on
Our city & country to speak English
They are the ones who want to be here.

Is this culture? Nah, just a

Is this culture? Nah, just a way to cater the ever growing hispanic population. If it was culture why not add other laungages instead of only spanish?

probably because spanish has

probably because spanish has the second most native speakers in the world, and latin america is of ever growing importance (english is the second most spoken, but not as a first language). mandarin is the most widely spoken, and it would be absolutely wonderful if they were to have immersion classes in mandarin. however, it is probably a little harder to find someone with the right teaching credentials to teach school and is fluent in both languages (government regulations working against each other there??)

as of now, students are going to primary and secondary schools in which many of them are preparing for a four year college education. unfortunately, they attend school, go on to college, graduate in debt, only to find that what they have been told to do is not what is needed in today's economy. teaching languages along with specific skills will help our children become more competitive in today's world economy. this class is a start, and we need more.

Folks, you are so right. I

Folks, you are so right. I just don't understand why we have to teach our kids to speak Spanish in order to accomodate criminals that are not supposed to be here in the first place and don't care to learn our language. Even the legal ones should have to learn English to some degree before being allowed to enroll in public schools. The parents should stand up to all school systems, both public and private and demand an end to this nonsense.

Bilingual Classes

Boy this gets me and I am sure quite a view more upset.Why do we have to learn another language? This is AMERICA we speak English.
We should not have to push 1 for english,if they come here learn our language or go back where you come from.

This is the United States,

This is the United States, not America. The Americas are much bigger than these 50 states. And the world is bigger than the Americas. We need to prepare our youth for a world much different that the one you or I have grown up in. One where an understanding of other cultures will be as integral as skills required for high school arithmetic. And, actually, more people in the AMERICAS speak Spanish than English. We are not our own planet, we share it with billions of others and its about time we stop being ignorant and realize that learning to appreciate other cultures and other peoples is the only way we can create a positive and peaceful future, one where it will be safe for our children to live. I am an educator, and a pretty good one at that, and this lack of understanding of things not "American" is so dentrimental to our students and their future (and that of our country). We can no longer hold our youth back just because we are from a different generation. On the other hand, what we can do are teach them values like compassion and hard work rather than hatred.

With funding an issue

throughout North Carolina school systems, why are resources being expended to teach non-English speakers English.

Let them take seperate English classes on Saturday or after normal school hours -- which by the way their parents should fund so tha taxpayers are not hit with the expense.

Kindergarden students face enough challenges making that transition from home to a structured school environment. This has to be a stretch beyond what they should reasonably be expected to tackle.

Oh, have the parents' documents checked; if undocumented, send them to their homeland.

Why is this? We are in the

Why is this? We are in the United States and speak English here.

Yeah! Why would I want my

Yeah! Why would I want my kid to learn new stuff! My kid needs to learn his own language first!

Hey - you know, I've never heard of kids having to take Spanish classes in Spain or French classes in France, so why did I have to take English classes when I was growing up?

Speaking from experience...

Have you ever been to Spain or France? They actually do teach Spanish in Spain; I was a teacher there for nine and a half months last year. I taught English there and my students were required to study both languages as part of their curriculum. We teach our own language so that students can master it and so they can continue to explore and learn more about their native language. How did you learn to read and write so that you could read this article and post your comment here?

Dual Immersion Program

Clearly you do not know your history very well. This 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 various colonies. The first bilingual program was German-English in the northern Midwest of the United States. The legal precedent in California was set because of a Chinese –English program. We are the only first world country in the entire world that insists in teaching in only one language.

you have one fact a little

you have one fact a little confused. the united states has no official, de jure language nor was it voted on to make it anything other than english.

other than that, dead on. interestingly enough, although our schools are taught in english only, or at least a majority are, most other countries teach 2, sometimes 3 and 4 languages to their students. however, in the united states there are no laws requiring that radio and TV must play a certain amount of programming in english, as in France they require a large majority in french. several other countries, and regions within countries that have their own language, strictly require a certain amount of media to be published in a certain language.

Guess What

The vast majority of the world does NOT speak English...and as business and the world economy moves further toward globalization, people will need to be multi-lingual. Most countries already teach multiple languages and those children are likely doing far better than American children in their education for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately our country likes to say we are focused on education, but in reality we are far more focused on petty issues like this far too often.

We're Also...

American is also about the only country in the world to not teach a foreign language through all years of schooling. Young children learn languages far easier than even high schoolers. My 3 year old niece speaks between the two languages without even thinking about it and that's mostly words learned through Dora.

Popular arguments suggest that it might in the future be more prudent for world leaders to know Chinese. However, for the average American the benefit of knowing Spanish is immense. In 9 out of 10 jobs (a totally awesome made up statistic), HR will hire a Spanish speaking applicant over a non-Spanish speaking applicant if they are similiarly skilled.

To not see the advantages of knowing Spanish is pretty ignorant and borderline racist. Although in 9 out of 10 cases, I'd argue ignorance is the larger factor.

Dora. Please!

And I learned everything about opera from Bugs Bunny.

Too funny.

Here's another:
Instead of reading the Bible, I watched Veggie Tales. Who needs to really know about all that begetting (not to mention the cherry picked parts that allow Christians to narrow their beliefs).


IS THE LAST language I would allow my child to learn! TURKS ME OFF!


You are so ignorant I have no words to express it. Spanish is a rich language spoke in more than 20 countries around the world with different cultures and customs that will enhanced your knowledge and view of others and finally this is what you don't want to hear:
You are damaging the future of your children because to survived in this global market and economy your kids should learn Mandarin, French Spanish,etc,etc,etc.
It will be a privilege to speak as many language as an individual can but your arrogance and ignorant will create a mess in your kids future and if you don't change your mind your kids will tell you when they will get into college and interact with people from different cultures and different language.


Name me ONE Spanish speaking country that isn't a third world country, run by liberals or isn't worth the nuke to turn it to glass? I could CARE LESS if my children don't interact with people from different cultures in college...they are there to learn..not socialize with the socialists...I don't speak anything other than successful and suspect that will continue to bet the case without having to speak Spanish...if I WERE to learn a second language..Japanese would be it...that's if you want to do business in the market..I guarantee my children WILL be successful...and they won't need Spanish to do it!

Orange County, California did this years ago

Enrollment in private schools exploded! What happens in short order is that they wind up teaching the exact same material twice, once in English and then, once in Spanish....

...which intuitively tells you that since they're not extending the school day or school year, they are cutting out half the material they should teach if it was all taught in English.

We're destined to have a lot of bilingual dummies in a few years.

Dual Immersion Program

I would like to know were you are getting your misinformation. In 50 years of educational research, bilingual programs (when done correctly) have shown to have a significantly positive impact on student learning. If you read the American Educational Research Journal – Review of Educational Research for June 2010, you would learn that not only do student have significantly higher test scores, they also have higher cognitive and cooperative skills.


isn't that the make our children stupid, uninformed citizens that are easier to control and manipulate...

Totally agree.

Just the other day my Kinder-kin came home with a painting he finger painted with his toes. It was horrible. What exactly do you think they teach them in Kindergarten? Its all socialization and basics:

The NC Kindergarten Curicula

Goal 1 The learner will develop and apply enabling strategies and skills to read and write.
1.01 Develop book and print awareness
1.02 Develop phonemic awareness and knowledge of alphabetic principle
1.03 Demonstrate decoding and word recognition strategies and skills.
1.04 Read or begin to read.

Spanish & English. Yeap. They essentially are getting dual lessons in all of these, doing double the work. Except we all know that there are vast similiarities between the two languages in their roots and phrases. In fact, if anything learning dual here actually reinforces that a child is understanding language rather than reguritating.

Goal 2 The learner will develop and apply strategies and skills to comprehend text that is read, heard, and viewed.
2.01 Demonstrate sense of story (e.g., beginning, middle, end, characters, details and setting).
2.02 Demonstrate familiarity with a variety of types of books and selections (e.g., picture books, caption books, short informational texts, nursery rhymes, word plays/finger plays, puppet plays, reenactments of familiar stories).
2.03 Use preparation strategies to activate prior knowledge and experience before and during the reading of a text.
2.04 Formulate questions that a text might answer before beginning to read (e.g., what will happen in this story, who might this be, where do you think this happens).
2.05 Predict possible events in texts before and during reading.
2.06 Understand and follow oral-graphic directions.
2.07 Demonstrate understanding of literary language; e.g., "once upon a time" and other vocabulary specific to a genre.
2.08 Distinguish fantasy from reality when reading text.

Again, this is pretty much just teaching a kid what a book is and what to expect from them. Spanish vs. English, doesn't really mater here at all. How many times do these kids read the same basic books again anyway? A ton. See spot run. Donde es Banjo!?

Goal 3 The learner will make connections through the use of oral language, written language, and media and technology.
3.01 Connect information and events in text to experience.
3.02 Discuss concepts and information in a text to clarify and extend knowledge.
3.03 Associate target words with prior knowledge and explore an author's choice of words.
3.04 Use speaking and listening skills and media to connect experiences and text.

Again. Nothing specific learned. Dual reinforcement of the same basic principle no matter the language.

Goal 4 The learner will apply strategies and skills to create oral, written, and visual texts.
4.01 Use new vocabulary in own speech and writing.
4.02 Use words that name and words that tell action in a variety of simple texts (e.g., oral retelling, written stories, lists, journal entries of personal experiences).
4.03 Use words that describe color, size, and location in a variety of texts: e.g., oral retelling, written stories, lists, journal entries of personal experiences.
4.04 Maintain conversation and discussions:
attending to oral presentations.
taking turns expressing ideas and asking questions.
4.05 Use a variety of sentence patterns such as interrogative requests (Can you go with me?) and sentence fragments that convey emotion (Me, too!).
write from left to right and from top to bottom.
write most letters and some words when dictated.
4.06 Write and/or participate in writing behaviors by using authors' models of language.

Again, there is no set specific learning advantages between English and Spanish. They reinforce each other greatly. In fact, you could say that by using two languages you actually double the amount they learn while teaching the same exact skill set.

Goal 5 The learner will apply grammar and language conventions to communicate effectively.
5.01 Develop spelling strategies and skills by:
representing spoken language with temporary and/or conventional spelling.
writing most letters of the alphabet.
analyzing sounds in a word and writing dominant consonant letters.
5.02 Use capital letters to write the word I and the first letter in own name.
5.03 Use legible manuscript handwriting.

Dear lord, this one might be hard. They actually have to do something concrete. They have to spell their own name. That means over the course of 180 days they'll have to possibly master writing their name as Joe and possibly Juan as well. Somehow though, I think they will manage.

That's it. That is the entire Kindergarten curriculuum. It boils down to:
1) Can your child talk.
2) Can your child understand a story.
3) Can your child start to read a story.
4) Can your child write his own name and other letters.

180 days. Somehow I think they can manage if they cut the time between English and Spanish. Kindergarten is all about socialization and preparing them for learning solid lessons.

Think of English as a solid foundation of Limestone and Spanish as a fluid foundation of Ash. Combine the two and you get a concrete foundation which is imaginably stronger than either on their own.

You'd be surprised...

how much children learn in Kindergarten. First of all, this is only the language arts part of the curriculum. Did you happen to look up the other parts (science, social studies, etc.)? This is a basis of the language arts curriculum, the necessary elements, but there is much more going on in a classroom than one would think and much more than is noted in the Standard Course of Study. Try taking a look at the rest of the curriculum for starts. Have you ever been in a Kindergarten classroom for an extended amount of time? Covering all of the curriculum along with teaching the social skills children should learn at the Kindergarten level makes for a busy 180 days.


As long as the parents get to choose if their children are enrolled in this imersion class, then what is the problem. Isn't the US supposed to be about freedoms? Aren't parents supposed to be able to make choices about how their children are raised?
I personally think that they will not be missing out on anything. I am sure as the year goes forward that they will learn in both languages, but it will not feel like twice as much work.
I think its great that NC is trying new things.
(Personally, my children attend a Montessori school kindergarten and they have spanish class once a week and can choose to do spanish work at their leisure)