Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, Milford School District will begin a World Language Immersion program at the kindergarten level as a pilot program, with the intention of continuing and expanding foreign language education throughout the district. The first two classrooms at Morris Early Learning Center will include 50 to 55 students that will be immersed into English and Spanish through their daily instruction including the subjects of English, Math and Science.
Under the Governor’s World Language Expansion Initiative, an aggressive world language education plan is intended to prepare Delaware students with the language skills “to compete in an ever-changing global economy at home and around the world.” Ms. Lynn Fulton-Archer, Education Specialist, World Language Immersion with the Delaware Department of Education, has been assisting the Milford School District through introduction and implementation strategies. Currently there are nine districts and 17 programs throughout the state of Delaware involved in the Foreign Language Immersion initiative.
“These programs will allow students an economic advantage across the board and open doors that may not have been previously open to them before,” said Fulton-Archer. “Recent research has shown that language immersion programs have been able to help close the achievement gaps for students.” She also states that as a result of such programs, in general, families have seen better language and academic performance and students have become better listeners and are more creative when thinking of ways to solve problems.
Milford School District Kindergarten students will be offered the opportunity to participate in the Milford School District’s first cohort of the Spanish Immersion program at Morris Early Childhood Center. Participating students will follow an instructional model that presents them with 50% instruction in English and 50% instruction in Spanish. While they will experience the same curriculum as their peers, their instructional day will be made up of reading and social studies taught using the English language and math and science taught using the Spanish language. This program offering will be available to all registered Milford School District Kindergarten students for the 2016 – 2017 academic year. Interested students can apply to be entered into the district lottery for selection during their school registration.
“The exposure students will receive is a language rich environment, they will not only have an oral understanding of both English and Spanish but also learn to read and write in both languages,” said Bridget Amory, Director of Elementary Education at Milford School District. “They will learn the second language just as they have learned their primary language.” Amory states that research from the schools that Milford School District has interacted with have shown that students that participate in Foreign Language Immersion programs will eventually outperform their peers.
The Spanish Immersion classes that begin in the 2016-2017 school year will follow the two classrooms as they progress through their respective elementary schools, Milford Central Academy and Milford High School. Through attrition, the district will recruit teachers that have the qualities and experiences to excel with the spanish immersion program to expand the program.
The State of Delaware has granted Milford School District $10,000 to provide seed money for the Foreign Language Immersion program, assisting with start-up costs of classroom and learning materials and recruitment of students. Students in the Milford School District will be selected for the first Spanish Immersion program at Morris Early Childhood Center through a lottery program, as interested families will be selected at random to participate. The district will accept 50 to 55 students for the first program, filling two classrooms. Families interested in participating in the program will have the opportunity to sign up for the lottery process when they register their students for Kindergarten. Families that are interested in finding out more about the program and how they can get involved are encouraged to contact the Milford School District at 302-422-1600.
“Our job is to give our kids the best opportunities for learning, this will allow us to give them the gift of learning a second language,” said Amory. “Ideally these kids will be able to be marketable in a global society as they learn to understand the world in this global context.”