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Speak easy

Foreign language instruction at an early age can give kids a head start in an increasingly global community

Jennifer Lange was willing to spend the night outdoors in a sleeping bag if it meant a spot for her 5-year-old son in Albany’s dual language program at Delaware Community School. She was second in line when she arrived at noon on Sunday to secure one of two open spots in the program. The doors opened to begin registering students at 8 a.m. Monday.

Around the world, it’s typical for children to learn a foreign language at a young age. In the United States, most students must wait until middle school, but at a school in Albany, a different approach is being used. Students in Albany’s Delaware Community School are immersed in the language of Spanish beginning at the age of 4.

“All posters, communications to parents, Pledge of Allegiance and morning announcements are in both languages."

The program is what is called an immersion program, and it allows children to spend part or all of the school day learning in a second language. Lange, who now has three children enrolled in the program, a kindergartner, second-grader and third-grader, said when she moved to Albany and heard about the program, she felt she had no choice but to get her kids enrolled.

“I came to Albany for work. I was in the Peace Corps in Guatemala, and when I heard about this program, my mouth dropped,” Lange says.

The program features one bilingual class for each grade through fifth grade. The prekindergarten class has 18 seats, nine of the students are Spanish speakers and nine are English speakers.

“It works well because it makes a community for both the Spanish speakers and non-Spanish speakers,” Lange says.

The Dual Language Program is the only program of its kind in the area.

“All posters, communications to parents, Pledge of Allegiance and morning announcements are in both languages,” said Thomas Giglio, the school’s principal.

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Comments

Got_Triplets 5 months ago

My kids have been learning Hebrew for their entire six years. They know the language better than I do because they started earlier than I did. They are learning it faster and now they are teaching me how to count to ten and vocabulary. I am proud of my kids for learning Hebrew and for teaching their mom.

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