In efforts to increase bilingual learning, Kyrene de los Lagos Elementary School will be offering dual language courses during the 2014-15 school term.

The opportunities for students to learn Spanish will begin at the kindergarten level, and will annually move to higher grade levels.

The program will be working off a 50/50 model where kindergarteners will spend half their day learning material in English, and the second half learning material completely in Spanish.

The dual language program was first implemented in the Kyrene School District four years ago at Kyrene de los Niños Elementary School in Tempe.

Patricia Fernandez, Spanish instructor at Niños, feels the students that are enrolled in the dual language program are reaching a higher level of bilingualism and biculturalism.

“They are immersed through content … we teach language. They’re learning academic language, as well as social language,” Fernandez added.

Fernandez also highlighted that during the midpoint of the school year, her kindergarten students are already thinking in Spanish.

The program will be offered to one kindergarten class at Lagos, where a class of 50 students will be broken in half to be taught an English instructor and a Spanish instructor.

To assure each student is not left behind, during the first weeks of the school year the Spanish instructor will be teaching each student fundamental action words to assist them throughout the day, and introduce the intermingling of both languages.

Lagos Principal Dr. Ana Gomez del Castillo said having the dual language program presented at Lagos came as an unexpected surprise, since she assisted with the opening of the dual language program at Niños.

“I don’t want to take credit for being the person that brought up the idea; that was something that was initiated by our superintendent. He was looking at introducing various choice programs for the district, and dual language was one that had received a great deal of parent interest,” Gomez del Castillo said. “He received a lot of inquiries about would the district ever consider opening up a dual language program.”

The early dual language learning also goes as far to promote bilingualism, academic achievement and infuses multicultural learning.

The program is set to open its first year at the kindergarten level, as opposed to opening to all grade levels, because it offers a way to lay a foundation for the program, and students are able to retain the knowledge faster at a younger age, Gomez del Castillo said.

“Ideally there is a great deal of research that says the best time for kids to start learning a second language is when they are 3 and 4 years old. If you’re looking at kindergarten, it’s not saying that this is a bad time, the research still supports that kids at this grade level are like little sponges,” Gomez del Castillo added. “We started the idea where children will learn some of the very basic words in Spanish.”

Registration and open enrollment for the 2014-15 school term is currently in process, and parents who are interested in enrolling their child can visit, or call (480) 541-1000 for more information.

Kindergarten orientation will also be held at Lagos, 17001 S. 34th Way, on Thursday, Jan. 23 at 6:30 p.m. where parents can get further information about the dual language program.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or

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