by Terry Rogers
Milford School District students who will enter 6th grade starting in the 2022-23 school year were provided information about the Spanish Immersion program. Sharlitta Gilbert, Milford’s EL and World Language Specialist, along with Gary Zoll, Principal of Milford Central Academy and Carmen Crowley, M.Ed., Delaware Dual Spanish Immersion Coach, provided an introduction to the program to students and parents.
“This class is so important because, moving forward into sixth grade and then into high school, your children will begin a program that will allow them to earn a Seal of Multiliteracy,” Crowley said. “What is that? Many of the students here will decide to go to college and earning the Seal of Literacy identifies them as bilingual. If they continue moving forward with the program, they can also earn three credits. Right now, it is just amazing to see them in classes, how much Spanish they use.”
Gilbert also explained some of the other benefits of the program, which included marketable language skills, increased flexibility and focus as well as superior problem solving skills.
“Some benefits have emerged and I’m sure you’ve already seen some of the benefits of your child coming home and speaking Spanish and you hear them communicating out in the community,” Gilbert said. “But some additional benefits are economic advantages. It always pays to speak a second language when it comes to job employment, if you’re bilingual you have a step above other candidates. Now, academic achievements, so we probably kind of talked about literacy returns that your child will be able to receive even before that. Of course, to receive the seal, and that is a national recognition of their bilingual ability. Also, their scores are usually higher than their peers. Because for those who are bilingual, the work is a little harder. Generally, the scores are higher than their monolingual peers when talking about syllabi literacy. And again, the students who are in the immersion program are brilliant. It takes a lot to process a different language.”
Zoll provided additional information about the benefits of the program, explaining that many of the students in the immersion program take AP Spanish in high school which can provide them with free college credit, saving costs when the child does go to college. He also explained that students have a traditional class schedule at Milford Central Academy with some expressives lasting all year and others only a semester. However, the immersion program lasts all year.
“So right now we have a six period day, there’s six classes that all students take,” Zoll said. “In first period, that could be that expressive class when they’re learning about the Spanish language. Getting more of what they’ve been getting, it might be the social studies, period three science, or they have their expressive math. One of the things that we’ve heard from parents and students, they’ve been with the same friends, same classmates when they get here so they’re going to be mixed in with other students.”
In a slide presented by Goll, a sample schedule would have students starting the day in Spanish language arts in their first period, moving to social studies, then science, an expressive like band, physical education or art, followed by math then English language arts. Immersion takes place in Spanish language arts for all students in the program and in either social studies or science. At the orientation, students were provided a scavenger hunt written in Spanish with students having to follow the directions to find each of the five locations.
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