Green Bay schools embrace student heritage through bilingual program

Hispanic Heritage Month

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) — Inside a kindergarten classroom at Doty Elementary School, students are kicking off their school careers in not just one language but two.

“Kindergarten is the opportunity to introduce students to their community and their world,” teacher Alyssa Brown said. “And their world is…in both languages.”

In Brown’s bilingual kindergarten class, the day is split between Spanish and English.

“We’re teaching reading and writing skills in both languages,” she explained, “and increasing their language in both languages.”

Many of the students in Brown’s classroom come from Spanish-speaking households.

“When you start kindergarten, you’re five years old, so you have five years of language built up,” Brown said. “And that’s how we can start reading and writing, teaching those learning skills with the language they already know.”

The bilingual instruction will continue past kindergarten: classtime is 70-percent Spanish, 30-percent English in K through second grade.

Third, fourth, and fifth graders in the program learn in Spanish for 30-percent of the day, and English for 70-percent.

“They’ll continue together and exit the program when they are in middle school,” Brown said of her current class of kindergarteners.

there’s a lot ahead for these five-year-olds, but for now, they’re focusing on the task at hand.

“We get to color our names,” Adrian, one of the students told Local 5.

The students weren’t just coloring in block letters of their names: they worked on pronouncing them correctly.

“By making sure that we’re reviewing everybody’s name and we’re saying their names correctly, we’re respecting where they come from,” Brown explained. “We’re embracing them, and we’re using that to teach them and move them forward.”

Forward into a future in both English and Spanish.

“Both of these languages are needed in our community,” Brown said, “and we embrace that.”


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