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Students encouraged to continue bi-lingual education
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Over 75 parents, students and teachers filled the Dutcher Middle School cafeteria on Jan. 28 for a celebration of the dual-immersion Spanish-English language program.
“This is an effort to show students the ends to what they can do with being bilingual,” said Josie Ban-Alaniz, instructional coach for the Turlock Unified School District.
The night was filled with testimonials from former students who have gone through the dual-immersion program, videos of the importance of learning two languages and features of other schools using the same program.
A former Osborn student named Jessica spoke about her experience and how it helped her. She explained how her Spanish skills were a benefit when she traveled in Spain and to this day she still speaks both Spanish and English, making her fluent in two languages.
People in attendance watched the video “Speaking in Tongues” which showed schools all over the country that participate in the dual-immersion program. Many schools have the Spanish and English program, while others have Chinese and English programs.
Beginning with the 2010/2011 school year, Osborn Elementary School will be a full dual-immersion school. Students who attend Osborn will start kindergarten with 90 percent of their classes in Spanish and 10 percent in English, said Claire Mezzapesa, sixth grade English role model.
The amount of Spanish spoken in the classrooms will decrease and the amount of English spoken will increase each year from kindergarten through sixth grade, Mezzapesa said. When students are in fifth and sixth grade, the students will be learning half of their classes in Spanish and the other half in English.
After they finish sixth grade, Osborn students can continue the dual-immersion program at Dutcher Middle School.
“We are encouraging sixth graders to continue on with the dual-immersion program,” Mezzapesa said. “It is important to connect the sixth graders with the seventh and eighth graders to continue the program.”
The night of inspiration showed students how important learning two languages can be in today’s world.
“It is really important for the public to know what is available,” she said. “They can see the finished product of the program, the success of the program through student testimony, and this will hopefully encourage them to continue on.”  
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.