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Madison Schools Pilot New Foreign Language Immersion Program

10 Kindergarten Classes Will Spend Half The Day Teaching In Spanish

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The Madison Metropolitan School District will explore a new way to teach foreign language.

One in every 4 Madison public school students is a non-native English speaker, with more than half of those students speaking Spanish at home. In light of that, 10 Madison schools will test out a new type of language immersion program next year.

Silvia Romero-Johnson, who leads the district’s global education department, said national data suggests it should take up to seven years for English Language Learners, or ELLs, to become proficient in English.

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“The average length of time it takes ELLs in (the Madison Metropolitan School District) is 10.5 years,” she said. “We want that time to be shorter.”

Romero-Johnson said the district needs to change the way it introduces language to students. Next year, 10 elementary schools will offer dual immersion kindergarten classes.

“Half of the day will be in Spanish, and the other half would be in English,” she said.

Fifty percent of the seats will be reserved for non-native English speakers, who will continue taking dual immersion classes until they graduate, officials said.