Voices of Broward County

James S. Hunt Elementary

School Interview

How many bilingual education programs you have in your school?

Answer: We have two—One is Spanish-English and another one is French-English.

How many students are in bilingual education programs?

Answer: Now, there are 67 students in the programs. We have four classes and it could go up to 18 for one class. Now the Spanish dual language program is full that we have 36 students. The left 31 out of 67 are in French-English programs.

What grades have bilingual education programs?

Answer: We just registered for the dual language programs this year, so only the kindergarten have the program. But it is not the entire grade. There are five kindergarten classrooms, four out of the five are involved in the dual language program. And one remains a monolingual English class. There are two teachers working together in the program. One is the language (Spanish/French) teacher and another is the typical English teacher.

Can you tell me if your bilingual education program is dual language/two-way immersion? Or maintenance / developmental bilingual education?

Answer: Our program is the two-way immersion program. For basically, I work with my partner. My partner will teach the English component. And my job is to teach the same concept in the French.

What is a typical day like for the students in the program?

Answer: The school time is from 7:55 to 14:00. A typical day for our students can be divided into two parts—dual language literacy block and regular kindergarten time. The school starts at 7:55, the students should go to the home teacher first. My students are the homegroup A and my partner is responsible for the homegroup B. From the 7:55-8:05, I get group A settled in and take them to the kindergarten hallway to switch two groups. I take my partner’s kids, the group B; meanwhile, my partner takes mine, group A. Then, it’s the 90-minute literacy block. The literacy block time is required from 90 minutes to 120 minutes in Broward County. Our school takes the 90-minute model. During the literacy block, I teach group B students, the alphabet, the letter name, the letter sound in French. My kids, group A, learn English reading and vocabulary in my partner’s class. When it comes to 10:20, my partner and I switch our students back. I take group A and teach them 90-minute French; my partner takes back the group B and teaches them 90-minute English. Out of the literacy block period, the time all belongs to the regular kindergarten parts. There are also a Spanish teacher and an English teacher in the Spanish-English program, and the schedule of the Spanish-English program is the same. The Math content is only taught in English in all classes. Other contents, including knowledge such as calendar, are all taught in two languages (French and English/Spanish and English).

Are the languages for instruction used equally or in varying percentages? What percentages?

Answer: If we look at the whole day, when the students study here, from 7:55 to 2:00, I would say 30 percent of the day is in the immersion, you know, the Spanish and French. And the 70 percent of the day is English. During the literacy block, if it is French, it’s really supposed to be 100%. 100% Spanish or 100% French. But sometimes they might do not understand, so you might have to do 80%, 80% is going to be in the target language. And I’m not for sure that in Spanish, she is very close to like using the 100%. So basically, she taught more than me because she has more children (do) well in Spanish. It’s a little easier for her to stay close to 100%. Because our goal, the goal for the dual language program is 100% immersion, meaning you do everything like once the kids are in literacy block, they are only supposed to hear the language that they are trying to learn.

What languages do you assess students in and what assessments you use?

Answer: Our school uses the Benchmark Assessment System, which is BAS. BAS is basically used to diagnose students’ reading ability in English. Moreover, the district itself mandates that children must study all letters’ name and sound, like 40 out of 52, letter name and sound in English. The BAS is also used to promote students’ grades in that area. As the BAS does not have the French-English version, in the French-English program we don’t use BAS. However, the Spanish- English program use the Spanish version of the Benchmark Assessment System to assess students’ Spanish level. Students in our dual language programs do receive the assessment. But the assessments are not going to be used for criteria. They would be used to monitor the progress and the understanding. However, I actually believe that Broward County, these school monitor the data for the Spanish side of the dual language program to see how well the children are doing. Because they are tracking those children’s performance in school. Because their goal is to make those kids proficient in English and in Spanish. They want to the children to be, basically, Broward County says they want children to be bilingual and bilateral.

What are the expectations for the teachers?

Answer: Well, we are expected to teach the full literacy block, when we are doing the dual language. We still have to maintain the standards, so I have to know what my standards are. I have to know like what we are doing in English. Because whatever we are doing in English, I have to cover it in French. And our Spanish teacher, she has to cover it in Spanish. And that’s how it is. I have to say that it is easier in Spanish because a lot of words are available in English, which they are also available in English. It’s not as easily done in French. French is pretty new in Broward County school. They only started doing it, I will say, like four years ago. The Spanish dual language is not new. It has been around for a while. How do parents participate in the program?

How do parents participate in the program?

Answer: Well, when parents are enrolling their kids in kindergarten, they are taught about the program. And then they are given the choice, whether put their children in the dual language French, or the Spanish. A lot of those parents with their children in the program, they are ELLs. They speak other languages. The ESOL department actually sometimes organizes parents’ night. The dual language program itself has not been here. They haven’t been to my school, to this school, that I met. They’ll leave it up to us, to the administration at this school, to basically tell the parents what this program is like. A lot of the parents have to be explained in detail that because some parents get nervous. They will think that their children are not going to be able to read and write in English. For a lot of parents, we have to talk to them, tell them their children didn’t lose anything. It’s not like they are pulled out of class. It’s a schedule, it’s a rotation. So they will get 90 minutes in one language, they get 90 minutes in English. The only thing parents have to do is to support the language development by going on the website and trying to find some of the activities that we do in class.

How is the curriculum developed?

Answer: Like my classroom for French, it is almost like a green classroom. We don’t have books, because the French dual language program is very new. And there is no fit curriculum. I had to develop my own curriculum. And my curriculum basically comes from online resources. So the parents support the program by going online and by basically you know, finding those activities that I do in school with the kids.

Is there anything you wish to add? What makes you feel proud of your school’s bilingual education program?

Answer: There will be innovated about this because it is the first year our school trying the dual language program. We have never tried it before. There are more and more schools that are doing the dual language program. And, so I think it is nice for the students because they are not losing anything. I think it’s more work for the teacher though because the teachers have to teach twice. You are teaching literacy block twice. I think the school is doing this because they think they will be innovated, they are trying something new. They are trying to move this school forward. And we also have a very high population of ELL students so I think it is a good ground to have a dual language program.