You may be wondering: Is the Dual Language program at Holyoke Public Schools a good choice for students who are native Spanish speakers?
“Not only is the Dual Language program a good choice, it’s actually an excellent choice for students who are native speakers of Spanish,” said HPS Associate Director of Multilingual Learning Laura Espinoza-Mufson. “Some families may not realize there are huge benefits for Spanish-speaking students to enroll in our Dual Language program.”
Under the district’s innovative program model, Dual Language students are taught all grade-level subjects in both English and Spanish every day. The goal is for students to reach high levels of academic achievement, bilingualism, and biliteracy in a safe and engaging learning environment that values multiculturalism while preparing them for college and careers.
“We do our best to help our families understand that the Dual Language program is a great choice for their children and to answer their questions so they can feel comfortable with their decision,” Mrs. Espinoza-Mufson said. Common questions include:
“We already speak Spanish at home. How does learning in Spanish at school benefit my child?” For native Spanish speakers, strengthening literacy in their native language contributes to higher levels of literacy achievement in English in later grades. Studies show that high amounts of first language support, in this case Spanish, have the strongest effect on academic achievement for students of all backgrounds, especially those with limited English proficiency. Dual Language programs provide non-stop cognitive development for language learners.
“Will my kids fall behind their peers who learn in English only?”
Students who have the opportunity to learn in their native language are more likely to develop stronger levels of proficiency in English than in traditional monolingual classrooms. Early success in Spanish reading for native Spanish speakers is a good predictor of their future English proficiency. Research has shown that students in Dual Language programs outperform their monolingual peers on standardized tests, starting in middle school.
“Why are my kids learning other subjects in Spanish such as math and science and not just reading and writing?” Studies have shown that Dual Language programs are most successful when they provide exposure across all subjects in English and Spanish from an early age through high school. The longer students stay in the program and the more exposure they have to both languages across all content areas, the greater their chances for reaching high levels of academic achievement, bilingualism, and biliteracy.
Students are accepted into the Dual Language Program through three lottery rounds. HPS aims to accept an equal balance of students who are Spanish-dominant speakers, English-dominant speakers, and bilingual speakers.
Round 1 opened on February 13 and closes on March 31, 2023. This round is open to all students across the district. Siblings currently enrolled in the dual language program, children of HPS employees, and residents of the E.N. White and Kelly zones have priority.
Round 2 opens on April 1 and closes on May 19, 2023. This round is open to all students across the district.
Rolling admission opens on July 22, 2023 and is also open to all students across the district.
More information about the Dual Language program is available on the district website.