Over the past 20 years, the highly-successful bilingual immersion program at Osborn Elementary has helped thousands of young students become fluent in both Spanish and English – a skill that is becoming increasingly valuable in California.
“What started with a small group of teachers who wanted an effective bilingual program has grown to become one of the largest two-way immersion academies in our area,” said Ed Ewing, principal at Osborn Elementary. “By sixth grade, our students are completely literate in both languages.”
In 2009, the Turlock Unified School District opted to make Osborn Elementary a magnet school based on the success of the two-way immersion program. Although this attraction has created a waiting list of students in previous years, Ewing was happy to announce that the K-6 school was able to offer a new kindergarten class this school year and wipe the waiting list clean.
“This year we were able to create an additional kindergarten class and increase class sizes throughout the school,” said Ewing. “It was the first year that we were able to accommodate everyone and not have anyone on the waiting list. I was very happy that we could offer this to our community.”
Modeled off of the Canadian French-English immersion model, the two-way immersion program teaches students to read, write, speak, listen and think in two languages. At Osborn, Spanish and English instruction are kept separate to help maximize concentration of both languages.
In each classroom, Osborn strives to have a student ratio of 50 percent English-speakers to 50 percent Spanish-speakers to facilitate cross-learning for both language groups. The ratios also seek to encourage social interaction between Spanish and English-speaking students, and promote a cultural understanding among all students.
Currently serving approximately 860 students, the Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy seeks to have students who develop high levels of proficiency in their first and second languages, have academic performance at or above grade level, and demonstrate positive cross-cultural attitudes and behaviors.
“We’ll be celebrating our 20th anniversary throughout the year,” said Ewing. “There’s a planning committee that will put together a formal celebration in the Spring where we’ll invite past teachers, administrators, parents and students who were part of the formation of this program in the beginning. It will just be a great way to celebrate the program and our great community that it serves.”
For those interested in seeing the two-way immersion program in action, an Immersion Visitation Day is held at Osborn at 9 a.m. on the first Tuesday of each school month. Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy is located at 201 N. Soderquist Rd.