LEETA-ROSE BALLESTER: Bilingual immersion program extended to transitional kindergarten classes

River Glen

San Jose Mercury News, 08-05-2015

Students as young as 4 and 5 will be able to immerse themselves in Spanish and English in San Jose schools starting this academic year.

An immersion program that teaches students to read, write and communicate in both languages has been expanded to the San Jose Unified School District’s transitional kindergarten classes at Bachrodt Charter Academy, which is open to all students residing in the district.

Gardner, Trace and Willow Glen elementary schools and River Glen K-8 will continue to offer the program to incoming kindergartners.

As a result, students now can learn in both languages from transitional kindergarten through their senior year of high school if parents also enroll them in participating schools such as Hoover Middle, Willow Glen Middle and Lincoln High.

Transitional kindergarten is for students who miss the Sept. 1 birthday cutoff and won’t turn 5 until later in the year.

A typical day of dual-language instruction is about 80 percent Spanish and 20 percent English.

The program “has become very popular as our parents understand the opportunities available to individuals who are fully literate in more than one language,” said Margaret Petkiewicz, the school district’s manager of elementary bilingual programs and English learner services.

“The other big piece of transitional immersion is that at that age their vocabulary is exploding,” she added. “That vocabulary can expand twofold.”

The hope is that English- and Spanish-speaking children will bounce ideas and language off each other, thus enhancing teachers’ instructions in both languages.

Students as young as 4 and 5 will be able to immerse themselves in Spanish and English in San Jose schools starting this academic year.

An immersion program that teaches students to read, write and communicate in both languages has been expanded to the San Jose Unified School District’s transitional kindergarten classes at Bachrodt Charter Academy, which is open to all students residing in the district.

Gardner, Trace and Willow Glen elementary schools and River Glen K-8 will continue to offer the program to incoming kindergartners.

As a result, students now can learn in both languages from transitional kindergarten through their senior year of high school if parents also enroll them in participating schools such as Hoover Middle, Willow Glen Middle and Lincoln High.

Transitional kindergarten is for students who miss the Sept. 1 birthday cutoff and won’t turn 5 until later in the year.

A typical day of dual-language instruction is about 80 percent Spanish and 20 percent English.

The program “has become very popular as our parents understand the opportunities available to individuals who are fully literate in more than one language,” said Margaret Petkiewicz, the school district’s manager of elementary bilingual programs and English learner services.

“The other big piece of transitional immersion is that at that age their vocabulary is exploding,” she added. “That vocabulary can expand twofold.”

The hope is that English- and Spanish-speaking children will bounce ideas and language off each other, thus enhancing teachers’ instructions in both languages.

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