Native Spanish speakers sought for Cape's immersion program

Classes to start at H.O. Brittingham and Milton elementaries
August 29, 2017

Cape Henlopen is looking for a few more native Spanish speaking students for its Spanish immersion program starting this year.

“We have plenty of English speakers signed up; we're opened up for more Spanish speakers,” said Donna Kolakowski, supervisor for elementary education for Cape Henlopen School District.

There are about 42 students registered for the Spanish immersion class at H.O. Brittingham Elementary and another 40 at Milton Elementary, the two elementary schools that are piloting the program. Of those totals, Kolakowski said there are eight native Spanish speakers in the HOB class and 10 native speakers at MES.

The program is open to kindergartners who are expected to continue in the program through fifth grade.

“Our goal is to have a third of the class Spanish speaking,” Kolakowski said. “We're juggling to keep the balances.”

The Delaware Department of Education approved funding for Cape's immersion program in November 2016.

Cape Henlopen School District opened enrollment for the Spanish immersion class in February. The plan was for both elementaries to offer two classes of 25 students each. Students would receive instruction for all of their core classes in both English and Spanish. A Spanish-speaking immersion-certified teacher would join an English-speaking teacher to teach classes.

Kolakowski said dual-language programs are helpful to students later in life when they look for jobs. Research has also shown that students enrolled in dual-language programs score higher on tests than students in regular classes, she said.

“Cognitive abilities continue to grow because you have worked that side of your brain,” she said, referring to the left side, or analytical side of the brain.