S. Ariz. grade school offers Spanish immersion
GREEN VALLEY, Ariz. —
Continental School first-grader Makenzie Vernon comes from a bilingual household; her mother is Hispanic and her father, American. It wasn’t long before she began favoring English over her first language, Spanish.
“I want to speak like my dad,” she told her mother, Marisol, one day, somewhat to her dismay.
“I was shocked at how fast she was forgetting Spanish,” her mother said.
When a letter arrived from school while her daughter was still in kindergarten asking about Spanish immersion, she knew what to do. The school was thinking of offering the half-day program to first-graders, for students whose primary language was, or in Makenzie’s case was becoming, English.
“I thought it would be nice for her to pick Spanish up again, communicate with my side of the family,” Marisol said. “Being bilingual, I’ve found is very beneficial in the workplace and in school. I would like Makenzie to take advantage of the opportunities.”
She signed her up.
Nearing the end of her first year in formal Spanish training, Makenzie can read a book and carry on a conversation in her native tongue.
“I like that,” her mother said. “I like that she knows the language I know.”
In just a school year of daily afternoon immersion class, Makenzie and her 17 classmates in teacher Lina Szabo’s room greet their teacher, classmates, visitors, listen to stories, assignments and play learning games all in what was a foreign language mere months ago.
They’re going beyond learning colors, numbers, phrases and vocabulary words to lessons in math, social studies and science, all en español. They study in English all morning with their homeroom teachers, who work as a team with Szabo to make sure there are no curriculum gaps.