Arcadia School District launches kindergarten program to encourage dual-language students

ARCADIA, Wis. (WKBT) — The Arcadia School District is launching a new program to connect their Spanish speaking and English speaking students at an early age.

The program is called, “Valle,” Spanish for valley, and is being introduced in a class of 26 kindergarten students who are either dominant in Spanish, dominant in English, or been exposed to both languages at home.

The class will learn in Spanish almost the entire day, and as they progress into future grades, the goal is to be learning half in Spanish and half in English.

Instructor Regina McGuire is in her 11th year in Arcadia. She is one of the two certified teachers running the program, and she’s already seeing Spanish speakers getting more comfortable engaging in their language with their English speaking classmates.

“I think it’s a huge asset for the community,” said McGuire. “You can literally communicate with double the people, and the reading, writing, speaking, and listening in both languages becomes that much stronger because all of your language is valued, and you’re bringing all of your language to the table.”

McGuire added most kids in Arcadia are speaking Spanish at home, so teaching them academic Spanish allows them to continue to develop reading and writing at home with their parents. She said it’s an important step, because traditional education formats don’t allow that process to happen.

“They’re immersed in a new language, their home language is still developing, but they’re expected to stop when they come to school, and then continue to learning academic language in English without having made those connections to their home language in Spanish,” said McGuire.

The program is scheduled to teach the kids this way through fourth grade. McGuire hopes by then the school will have more programming to continue into middle school.