Friday, April 24, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Montgomery’s dual immersion draws praise

dual immersion1W

Beatriz Chaidez teaches the morning dual immersion class at Montgomery Elementary School. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

By
From page A1 | March 12, 2014 |

Learn more

What: Parent information night focusing on both of Montgomery Elementary School’s programs — Two-Way Bilingual Immersion and traditional English program

When: 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday

Where: Room B-2, Montgomery Elementary School, 1441 Danbury St.

Info: http://montgomery.djusd.net/TWBI

In their 2004 report on dual language immersion programs — such as the one started this year at Montgomery Elementary School in Davis — George Mason University researchers Virginia Collier and Wayne Thomas dubbed their results “astounding,” because, they said, “We have been truly amazed at the elevated student outcomes resulting from participation in dual language programs.”

“This is the only program for English learners that fully closes the (academic achievement) gap,” they wrote in the National Association for Bilingual Education’s Journal of Research and Practice.

The pair spent two decades evaluating programs in 23 school districts in 15 states before coming to that conclusion. But parents and teachers participating in the dual language immersion program at Montgomery are just as impressed after a mere seven months.

Dubbed the Two-Way Bilingual Immersion Program, Montgomery’s version was started this year in two kindergarten classes, replacing the Spanish Immersion kindergartens that had been in place since the school opened in 2001.

Montgomery always has featured two learning strands — traditional English-speaking and Spanish Immersion. But the Spanish Immersion eventually will be phased out and replaced at all grade levels by Two-Way Bilingual Immersion.

The two-way program differs from the Spanish Immersion program in both desired population and teaching method. Ideally, TWBI classes are composed of half English-speaking students and half Spanish-speaking, with a minimum of 30 percent Spanish-speaking.

The TWBI program also includes more English earlier. Spanish Immersion calls for 100 percent of instruction to be in Spanish in kindergarten and first grade, with the amount of English slowly increasing over subsequent years. By sixth grade, Spanish Immersion students are instructed in Spanish 70 percent of the time and English 30 percent, according the program’s master plan.

The two-way program, on the other hand, starts at a 90-10 ratio, with 90 percent of instruction in Spanish and 10 percent in English, and progresses to a 50-50 split between the languages by the fifth grade.

The program came to Montgomery in large part in order to serve the school’s significant population of English-language learners while at the same time satisfying the sizable number of Davis parents who want their children to learn Spanish at an early age.

And while one-way Spanish Immersion programs also were found by Collier and Thomas to be extremely effective in closing the gap of English-language learners, Montgomery wasn’t drawing those students to its program.

Parents of English-language learners chose the traditional English program over Spanish Immersion by a fairly wide ratio, largely because they wanted their children to learn English quickly and feared they wouldn’t if they were in a classroom where 100 percent of instruction is in Spanish.

“They’d ask, ‘Why would we put them in a Spanish class if we want them to learn English?’ ” recalled DeKristie Adams, a parent volunteer with the program, who noted that often parents wanted their students to learn English quickly in order to translate for them.

“But the research shows English learners do better in the long run if they start reading in their native language first,” she said.

And pull-out programs, where English-language learners are regularly removed from the classroom to receive one-on-one English instruction, don’t close the achievement gap, Collier and Thomas found.

Those remedial programs, the pair wrote, “only partially close the gap. Often, the gap widens again as students move into the cognitive challenge of the secondary years.”

That is not the case for students in dual language programs, they found, where students regularly make more than one year’s progress in both languages.

The idea of dual language immersion has been around for a while and Sarah Fonte has long been a believer — so much so it brought her back into the classroom when she heard about Montgomery’s plan to create such a program.

Fonte taught science for seven years at César Chávez Elementary School before spending three years living in Colombia.

After returning to Davis, and hearing what Montgomery was up to, she applied to teach in the program.

“I’d always been an advocate for two-way immersion,” she said. “The research shows that for Latino kids, this is the best program. Native Spanish speakers come out completely bilingual. They are on grade level in all concepts and achieving in both languages.”

Fonte now teaches the afternoon TWBI kindergarten at Montgomery, while Beatriz Chaidez teaches the morning class.

Chaidez, too, is back in the classroom after a long absence, including 10 years spent as an administrator and more recently working on her Ph.D. Her husband is principal of Beamer Park Elementary School in Woodland, which also has a Spanish Immersion program.

“I’m an English-language learner myself,” she said, “and I’ve seen the benefits myself of being literate in your native language. The research I have read is that for someone who has Spanish as a native language, for them to do well in school, go on and do well in high school and then go to college … this is the best type of education.”

And it’s just as rewarding for the Spanish-language learners, she said, who not only emerge from the program bilingual, but also bicultural, because of the focus on Latino heritage and culture.

That focus also does wonders for the self-esteem of young Latino children, she noted.

When, for example, the class was focusing on the letter “M,” talk turned to Mexico, and “some students who would have been less vocal, less engaged, are the most engaged,” Chaidez said.

Fonte agreed.

“Kids remember where their families are from … it reminds them of how proud they should be,” she said.

And then there is this: “The English-speaking kids see that the Spanish-speaking kids are smart,” Fonte said. “They can learn to read faster, they’re not seen as quiet, not seen as having trouble.”

And they can serve as classroom leaders, assisting their English-speaking classmates with pronunciation or translation, just as their English-speaking classmates do the same for them.

Adams has seen it firsthand.

“I was volunteering in the classroom and my Spanish is atrocious,” she said, “and the Spanish-speaking kids would help me. I imagine if they’re doing it for me, they’re doing it for the other kids.”

That difference in the classroom environment is another thing Colliers and Thomas noted in their research. Two-way programs, they said, allow students from different backgrounds to view each other as valuable, knowledgeable learning partners.

“The respect and nurturing of the multiple cultural heritages and the two main languages present in the school lead to friendships that cross social class and language boundaries,” they added. “Teachers can see the difference in their students’ responsiveness and engagement in lessons. Behavior problems lessen because students feel valued and respected as equal partners in the learning process.”

That difference extends to the parents as well.

“In this program,” Fonte said, “Spanish-speaking parents are an asset. They come and volunteer and they can help with everything. They don’t have that outlet in (traditional) classrooms.”

Parents who don’t speak Spanish help out all the time as well, of course, and see firsthand how the program is working.

Tamica Clement Moore is one such parent.

Clement Moore was helping in the classroom last Friday as the students worked on writing and pronouncing in Spanish numbers 10 through 15.

“Before we started here, I only knew my numbers up to 10,” laughed Clement Moore. “Now they’re teaching me.”

Of her daughter, Myla, she said, “I’m surprised at how well she does. She’s already reading in English and Spanish and it’s not a big deal to her. It shows our expectations should be higher for all kids.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” she said of Myla’s progress this year. “I didn’t think she’d learn so much, so soon.”

Adams, who has a second-grader in Montgomery’s Spanish Immersion program and kindergartner Juliana in the dual immersion program, also has been thrilled about the latter program’s success.

“It has been a very positive experience for my daughter,” she said. “She is thriving and developing excellent language skills in both languages.”

She also appreciates that the dual immersion program seeks the population it does to achieve a 50-50 balance of English speakers and Spanish speakers.

“I like the diversity,” she said. “When I saw my daughter’s kindergarten picture, I got tears in my eyes … it is such a wonderful makeup of children.”

Meanwhile, Montgomery PTA president Merissa Leamy says the impact of the TWBI program extends well beyond the classroom.

Priority for enrollment in the program is given to students who live in the Montgomery attendance area, she explained. And, unlike her son’s traditional Spanish Immersion classroom at the school, which has families from all over town, “this kindergarten is definitely more people who live around the corner or down the street.”

“They’re more invested in the school,” she noted. “It’s definitely been a positive thing for the whole school.”

Families of children entering kindergarten next fall are invited to learn more about both of Montgomery’s programs — the Two-Way Bilingual Immersion program and the traditional English program — at a parent information night Thursday. Presentations are at 4 and 6 p.m. in Room B-2 at the school, 1441 Danbury St. in South Davis.

Learn more about the program by visiting the Montgomery website at http://montgomery.djusd.net/TWBI.

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at [email protected] or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy

Comments

comments

Anne Ternus-Bellamy

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    Water and power have a troubling interdependency

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    New design submitted for conference center

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Los Angeles march to commemorate Armenian killings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Hostage deaths a reminder of risk of ‘deadly mistakes’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Bob Dunning: Fairness is an afterthought for them

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

     
    Got bikes? Donate ‘em!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Beginning tai chi classes start May 5

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    College Night set April 30 at DHS

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Walkers head out three times weekly

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4Comments are off for this post

    Tour of co-ops precedes Sacramento conference

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    School board hears report on health services

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A5

    Explorit: Celebrate International Astronomy Day

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Learn basics of composting in Woodland

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Mamajowali will perform at benefit house concert

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

     
    BeerFest expands to include cider

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    Winkler Dinner raises funds for enology, viticulture activities

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

     
    Raptor Center welcomes visitors at May 2 open house

    By Trina Wood | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Take a peek at region’s past at Tremont Mite Society’s social

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8 | Gallery

     
    Mapping where human action is causing earthquakes

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A9

    Hummingbird health: Appreciating the little things

    By Kat Kerlin | From Page: A12 | Gallery

     
    .

    Forum

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B4

     
    The fight for gender pay equity

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

     
    Thanks for supporting the arts

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Bike Swap another success

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    Drink is a tasteless insult

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    It’s a depressing beat

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    .

    Sports

    Reeling Blue Devils stop skid against Sheldon

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Aggie Spring Game environment will up the gridiron fun factor

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Rare DHS track loss still full of highlights

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Lehner talks about the UCD student-athlete experience

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    DYSA roundup: Lester, Osborne lead Storm over Dixon

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Lady Demons’ fundraiser a smash hit

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Pro baseball roundup: River Cats lose their fourth straight

    By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B12

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

     
    ‘Ex Machina': The perils of playing God

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    Ceramicist works will be featured at The Artery

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    Chamber expands Korean sister-city opportunities

    By Felicia Alvarez | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Car Care: Tips for buying your first ATV

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B6

    Subaru goes rear-wheel drive with sporty BRZ coupe

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B7 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Valente Forrest Dolcini

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Whitney Joy Engler

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, April 24, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B5