Written by: Tess Siemer, Central Point Two-Way Spanish Immersion Coordinator
Central Point’s Two-Way Spanish Immersion (TWI) program not only builds bilingual and biliterate students but cultivates life-long friendships and community. Begun in 2014 with a single kindergarten and first grade class, the program has grown to serve over 300 students and their families in kindergarten through eighth grades. Next year, our first class of students will move to Crater High School.
Students in the elementary TWI program at Jewett Elementary focus on learning through thematic units while 100% in the target language, Spanish. In a dual language program, we are not teaching the language, we are teaching the content through the language. For example, if they are studying the Rogue Valley, they would read and write about the valley in Spanish, sing and chant in Spanish, and compare cultural celebrations here with those in Spanish speaking countries. They might learn the bachata and a square dance, make some pastel de tres leches and pretzels as well as visit important locations around the region. We focus heavily on applied learning – if we learn about something, we want our kids to touch it, visit it, make it, or build it in order to bring the things we study to life.
Our dual language program is a 90/10 model, meaning that our students at kindergarten spend 90% of their day in Spanish and 10% in English. That percentage changes each year to be 80/20 in first 70/30 in second and so on until students spend half of their academic day in each language. Half of the students in our program are native Spanish speakers and half are native English speakers. Students learn to read in Spanish in kindergarten and first grade and then in second grade they transfer those skills to learn to read in English as well.
Our secondary students at Hanby Middle School spend half of their day in Spanish, studying science, social studies, and language arts. The rest of their day is spent in typical middle school classrooms learning mathematics and electives such as PE, art, chorus, or band. This allows them to maintain their cross-cultural friendships, while also making connections with new peers.
Fun facts about our program include
- Central Point’s dual language program is the only K-12 TWI program in the region
- Average student performance is 1.6 grade levels above their peers
- Students are represented from all over the Rogue Valley in the TWI program
If you are interested in touring our TWI program, please feel free to contact me anytime. We would love to show you what dual language is all about! You can also learn more about our program at https://twi.district6.org/ or on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/D6TWI.
Tess Siemer is a Siskiyou County native, transplanted to the Rogue Valley 15 years ago. She wrote the grant to begin the TWI program and has been coordinating it since its inception. A former high school and elementary teacher, elementary vice-principal and District Office Coordinator, she looks forward to reentering the classroom to teach the High School TWI block next year while continuing to coordinate the program K-12.