Pitt County Schools is launching a dual language immersion program at Belvoir Elementary School in the fall, where 48% of students are native Hispanic speakers. The program, with rotating instruction in Spanish and English, will be offered to all incoming kindergartners with parent approval.
Pitt County Schools World Language Coordinator, Ann Borisoff, says research shows there are scholastic benefits to bilingual instruction. “What happens is that a different part of the brain is accessed when you are working with a bilingual situation. Actually, learning in a lot of cases goes a lot faster and students obtain the same or better results on academic achievement tests as do their monolingual peers,” Borisoff.
(Last year’s post from 3/21/14):
Pitt County Schools is doing a feasibility study on two-way immersion programs to start in 2015-16. In such programs the entire curriculum is taught partially in Spanish and partially in English. Prof. Ann Borisoff who has just completed a dissertation on this subject was featured in an article in The Daily Reflector on March 4, discussing the benefits of such an approach in Pitt County where schools like Belvoir Elementary are 48% Hispanic.
Borisoff said that not only do all the students become bilingual and biliterate, but achievement improves and students develop cross-cultural competence. Data from programs such as the dual immersion program in Greene County have shown that students in such language immersion programs not only learn the standard curriculum despite the language challenges, but actually perform equal or better on grade level tests than their mono-lingual peers. A sample classroom might be an equal mix of native-Spanish and native-English speakers on an alternate day schedule in which the same curriculum is taught exclusively in Spanish one day and in English the next.