Dual language program in Del Rey sets students up for success

Dual language programs are growing in popularity across the state and in the Central Valley.
DEL REY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Dual language programs are growing in popularity across the state and in the Central Valley.

Del Rey Elementary is one of many that joined largely in part because of its predominantly Hispanic population.

"We are usually 92% to 93% Hispanic, 7% Indian," said Del Rey Elementary Principal Pete Munoz.

Munoz says he noticed some students starting behind because their native language was not English.

"We saw that gap immediacy in Kindergarten where our Hispanic students were falling behind," Munoz said.

He soon discovered the potential students could be set up with if they had a dual-language program, and for the past three years, students have had the opportunity to grow in both languages.

"We want to make sure they are not only retaining and strengthening their Spanish but also attaining and strengthening their English," Munoz said.

A balance Erica Cabrera wants for her 6-year-old, Luke. Although they're not from Del Rey, she transferred her son to the Sanger School District to attend and join the program. She says his growth in Kindergarten was substantial.

"It's interesting seeing the way his mind has grown and the way he is processing things. We can be in town, and he is translating the objects we see driving by and is teaching his little sister things, " said Cabrera.

In Luke's case, English is his stronger language even though his parents are Hispanic. His mom says they want him to learn about his culture and have the chance to grow academically in both.

A challenge Luke says he's up for.

It was kind of hard. I enjoyed it," said Luke.

In Kindergarten, students learn 90% of the content in English and 10% in Spanish.

Every year it shifts by 10%, and by fifth grade, they're learning 50/50 in both languages.

Another big component of the program includes learning traditions about the Hispanic culture they wouldn't learn in a traditional setting.

Munoz says he loves the improvement he's witnessed over the years and hopes more families will take advantage.

There is also still time for students attending Kindergarten here to join the fall dual-language program.

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