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Scenes from a Dual-Language Kindergarten

Last week, New Journalism on Latino Children hosted a conference at Chicago's DePaul University to highlight Illinois' trailblazing efforts in bilingual and dual-language programs. As I've posted before, Illinois is the first state to require its schools to provide bilingual pre-K programs for English-language learners.

In the suburb of West Chicago, Gary School has had a dual language program for some years. It starts with children speaking Spanish for 80 percent of their day in kindergarten, and over subsequent years evens out to 50/50 Spanish and English. Half the students spoke English as their first language; the other half spoke Spanish first. Here's a four-minute peek inside their kindergarten, plus interviews with some older children still in the program:

In the clip you'll see how the classroom transitions from English to Spanish and how the teacher helps a student with sound-letter correspondence across the two languages (long "a" in English sounds just like "e" in Spanish).

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