Nearly 1,000 kindergartners and first graders will be learning a world language in Delaware schools next year as part of the World Language Expansion Initiative.
Foreign language classes have been becoming more common in more grades in Delaware over the past few years with the goal of eventually having 10,000 students in K-8 language immersion programs by 2022. Governor Markell’s initiative was launched in the beginning of this school year, with three elementary schools taking part.
For the coming school year, seven new schools will start offering the program. Offering Spanish immersion classes will be South Dover Elementary, Pulaski Elementary, Blades Elementary and West Seaford Elementary School. The Mandarin Chinese immersion will at Downes Elementary, Wilbur Elementary, and New Castle Elementary School.
In his State of the State Address earlier this month, Markell repeatedly pointed out that the state needs to prepare the next generation to compete on the global stage. He says learning a world language is a part of that preparation. “The ability to speak another language is a life skill that is becoming crucial in the global job marketplace and to our growing state economy.”
Markell, who recently returned from a trip to Davos, Switzerland where he met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, will soon leave for a trip to Mumbai, India. “We have an incredible opportunity for Delaware youth to learn another language before they reach high school, a skill that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.”
In the immersion programs, students learn academic material in both languages. Unlike languages classes many adults may have taken in school, the focus is not on grammar, but on teaching the students to be proficient in using the language. Kindergartners entering the program will be able to continue their immersion studies through middle school, and eventually get Advanced Placement credit in ninth grade. Immersion classes have two teachers, one for each language.