Kyrene de los Lagos Elementary School started the school year with the option of learning two languages at an early age as the school opened its Bienvenidos Kids Club for 3- to 5-year olds.
Bienvenidos, Spanish for “welcome,” has been around the Kyrene School District for the past six years at Kyrene de los Niños and Kyrene del Norte elementary schools.
Students in the program, which is designed to immerse children in Spanish, learn the fundamentals of the language from learning their numbers and letters to simple conversations.
Currently, there are 17 students enrolled in Bienvenidos at Lagos.
Bienvenidos is an introduction to the Dual Language program at Lagos, which also began its first year at the school. Both programs work on a 50/50 model, where instructors divide the day by speaking to their students in English and Spanish.
Liz Mangan, innovative program coordinator, said Bienvenidos was a good way to introduce to Spanish to students.
“This is a course for English-speaking students to learn Spanish,” she said. “All of our teachers are bilingual in English and Spanish, and they’re starting off the school year with introductory skills and learning the rules of the classroom.”
Students in the Bienvenidos program at Lagos begin their day with circle time, where they’re taught their numbers and letters, as well as the days of the week and months of the year, in Spanish by instructor Belen Meza. .
Once circle time is over, Meza’s students divide into learning centers inside the classrooms.
The Bienvenidos’ learning centers help students hone their skills in creative expressions, math, and language and literacy in Spanish. Each student is allowed to choose the learning activity in which they will participate.
“Primarily, we just want them to use language and content to learn Spanish in a natural environment,” Mangan said. “Being immersed and around a second language really helps them with their language development. That’s a huge advantage.”
Meza, who’s been teaching in the Bienvenidos program for the past six years, said it’s important for students to learn a second language at an early age because they’re able to retain more of what they’re taught.
“They learn all the basics, so when they go to kindergarten, they already know their colors, their ABCs and their shapes in Spanish,” she said. “I also let their teachers know that they’re learning the same thing that they’ll learn once they go to kindergarten.”
Luz Mady, whose son is enrolled in Bienvenidos, said the program would assist her child to grow up speaking two languages.
“Hispanic is my heritage and I want my kids to grow up bilingual,” she said. “It’s amazing how they’re able to pick up on the language.”
Mady plans to enroll her son into Lagos’ Dual Language program when he enters kindergarten.
Bienvenidos is offered to 3- to 5-year-olds part time and full time.
For more information about Bienvenidos, visit www.kyrene.org/page/1333.
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