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In April 2024, the Elkhorn Village School administration announced that it is exploring possibly transitioning our school to a full Spanish dual immersion school beginning in the 2025-2026 school year. This proposal will not disrupt or displace current Elkhorn Village students. This transition would be a gradual phased-in approach starting with the 2025-2026 kindergarten students for whom there would no longer be an English-only classroom pathway. 

Over the coming weeks, we will gather more information from the school community and staff through regular communications and provide additional details at staff and community meetings.
What are the next steps?

We want to ensure that this transition aligns with our school’s needs and the interests of our community. As such, we want to make you aware of some important dates to keep in mind regarding this process:
  • May 9, 2024: WUSD School Board meeting, 6:30 PM, City Hall, 1110 W Capitol Ave.
      • The School Board will review the proposal and take action. 
      • All are welcome to attend.
  • 2025-26 School Year: Proposed timeline for phased-in transition.
School Board Presentation (4/25/24)

School Board Presentation (4/25/24)

On April 25, 2024, the Elkhorn Village School administration and district staff provided an update to the WUSD Board of Trustees at a regularly scheduled board of education meeting on the Spanish Dual Immersion Program at Elkhorn Elementary. This update included a comprehensive program overview, focusing on communication, program goals, enrollment, and staffing. The presentation allowed attendees to understand better the program's current state and the implications of transitioning to a full Spanish Dual Immersion school.
Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of language immersion programs for students?

Beyond achieving high proficiency in biliteracy and bilingual skills, research shows immersion students outperform native English-speaking classmates on standardized tests and have enhanced cognitive skills. Students also gain interpersonal skills, including increased cultural sensitivity, and are prepared for a global society and marketplace.
Being able to communicate and excel academically in two languages also gives students greater self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment. Watch this video to hear firsthand about the experiences of students who finished our language immersion program.

What is the difference between a 90:10 and a 50:50 model?

The first number in the ratio for both models indicates the percentage of time in the classroom that is spent teaching in the target language of Spanish or Mandarin. The second number refers to the percentage of time spent teaching in English. For 50:50 models, the ratio of the target language to English remains consistent throughout the entire program.
In 90:10 models, the instructional time for the target language decreases each year until there is a 75:25 ratio by the end of the K-5 program. 90:10 models are also sometimes called full immersion programs, while 50:50 programs can be known as dual language immersion programs.

Why is there more than one model?

Both models have been found to develop biliteracy and bilingual skills in students. Typically, the 90:10 model is recommended for populations of primarily English-speaking students because those students have significant exposure to English outside of school.
The 50:50 model is typically recommended for student populations with higher numbers of students who speak the target language, Spanish or Mandarin, at home. This allows all students in the classroom to spend half of their time further developing their first language while spending the other half acquiring a second language.

Why is it OK to immerse English speakers in a language, but not Spanish and Mandarin speakers?

This is actually a common misconception about immersion education! Immersion education can be a great opportunity for students who speak any language. In areas of the United States where English is the primary language spoken outside of school, students can spend more time in Spanish or Mandarin in the classroom without worrying about the development of English language skills.
In communities where other languages are spoken at home, the 50:50 model is a great option because both students who speak English at home and students who speak Spanish or Mandarin at home are actually “immersed” in the other language, which has the added benefit of allowing students in each language group to be the “experts” 50 percent of the time.
Regardless of the language of immersion, immersion programs should not be viewed as replacing English with another language but, rather, as a way to provide students with the opportunity to acquire skills in a second language.

How can instructional integrity be maintained in a language immersion program?

All Participate Learning language immersion educators teach the same standards as their English-only teaching peers, and students are required to complete the same mandated state testing (which is in English). All Participate Learning programs, regardless of language, have access to progress-monitoring assessments that can be used to ensure students are mastering the same content as other students in their school.
Additionally, all of our language immersion ambassador teachers receive support through dedicated program managers and are provided instructional guidance from community facilitators and peer reviewers. They have access to online communities of practice, which connect them to all ambassador teachers, as well as the integrated online platform that includes global resources, curricula, and lesson plans. Language immersion ambassador teachers are also observed periodically in their classrooms and are given mentoring and coaching from dual language experts to ensure high-quality instruction.

How can students learn when they are instructed for up to 90 percent of the day in a language they don’t understand?

Our language immersion ambassador teachers are trained in methods that support student language acquisition, including visual aids, handouts, body movements, and facial expressions, to convey meaning and context. Ambassador teachers also utilize strategies such as modeling, scaffolding, and checks for understanding to build student skills and confidence in the target language.

Do students follow the state curriculum standards in language immersion programs?

Yes, both our Spanish and Mandarin programs are mapped to state-approved academic content and standards. Students in language immersion programs are tested on the same material as students in traditional programs across North Carolina and Virginia. The target language is not a subject; it is the language in which instruction is delivered.