SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — With the new dual immersion program coming to certain schools, the Sioux Falls School District is looking to help broaden the minds of young students.
Rosa Parks Elementary and Hayward Elementary are the two schools that were chosen for the first dual immersion program in Sioux Falls.
“It started out as a program to address the needs of English learners and as there’s been more attention paid to the benefits of being multilingual – being bilingual, people have gravitated to it as an opportunity just to learn a second language,” Director of Curriculum and Federal Programs for the Sioux Falls School Distrcit Ann Smith said.
There are plenty of benefits for students who learn two languages at a young age.
“There’s some really interesting brain research that’s out there that just shows how becoming bilingual actually makes your brain more flexible, makes a person more open to new experiences,” Smith said.
Not only broadening their minds but also their understanding of other cultures and languages, each subject will be taught in both Spanish and English.
“The great thing about the proposed program for this is that they would get literacy in both English and in Spanish. So they would get opportunities to acquire both English and Spanish in… in Math, as well as Social Studies, Science, all of those different areas,” 2nd Grade Teacher at Sonia Sotomayor Spanish Immersion School Bobbi Greenfield said.
The program is 50-50: meaning students that speak English fluently will spend half of their day learning Spanish and the students that speak Spanish fluently will spend half of their day learning English.
They plan to launch the program exclusively for Kindergarten, then add it to the next higher grade with each passing year.
“I’ve worked with this program for six years and, you know, when kids study another language their ability to problem solve, their ability to think outside of the box is just greatly increased. They just think kind of differently than kids in a monolingual program,” Smith said.
Even though the focus of the program is to broaden their education, the end result might just bring them closer together.
“Any time you can bring students together and share their language, you know, not all of the English-speaking students are going to know Spanish and the Spanish speaking students may not know English as well. So it’s a wonderful opportunity for them to learn,” Director of Human Resources for the Sioux Falls School District Becky Dorman said.