The district also has a very
popular two-way Spanish/English
program housed in the Manthala
George Jr. Elementary School and
a brand new Portuguese immersion
program. The district plans to launch
a French immersion program in the
fall, mainly appealing to students who
have relatives from French-speaking
Caribbean islands and Africa, as well
as English-speaking families who
want their children to know more than
Roumis was particularly
enthusiastic about the promise of two-way bilingual programs. The Spanish/
English program always has a long
On a recent morning, students
in Leticia Roseman’s fourth-grade
classroom at the George School were
reading books and answering questions
posed by their teacher in Spanish.
They made speaking the language look
effortless. In a classroom across the
hall, another group of students was
doing the same, except in English.
For half the day, the students learn
math, science and social studies in
Spanish, and for the other half they
learn those subjects in English.
It’s a 50/50 program in all
respects. Half of the students speak
English as their native language; the
other half speak Spanish. Each class is
made up of equal numbers of students
from the two language backgrounds.
In a few short years, all of the
students are fluent in two languages
— something most adults in the U.S.
Studies show that students in
dual language programs typically
outperform their peers by several
measures, including flexibility in
thinking and tenacity as well as more
traditional test-score results.
A 2012 study by researchers
Wayne Thomas and Virginia Collier
for the Joint National Committee for
Languages concluded, “Dual language
learning has been found to be the only
method of second language acquisition
to facilitate the full closure of the
achievement gap between English
learners and English speakers in
primary and secondary education.”
In 2015, Houston decided to
greatly expand its dual language
programs after a Rice University study
found that students in the two-way
programs had the best Spanish and
Will more dual language programs
and other alternatives to SEI be
developed across the state now that the
Legislature has passed the LOOK Act?
Roumis and Jones hope so,
especially in communities where
parents want their children to have the
opportunity to be bilingual, bicultural
“Brockton was the first community
in Massachusetts to have bilingual
programs for students,” said Jones,
a past president of MATSOL. “We
have over 40 years of bilingual and
responsive programming for students.
Part of that history and the activism
of our community influence how we
responded to [the Unz law] and how we
Roumis added, “Brockton’s
nickname is the City of Champions,
and you might say the schools are
real champions for the community.
I always remember what Kellie said
once: ‘We are a Gateway City, but we
should be called a Language Gateway
City for all the offerings we have
Continued from Page 5
“We have over 40 years of
bilingual and responsive
programming for students,”
says Kellie Jones, Brockton’s
director of bilingual education.
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