Jenks Schools starting early with learning a foreign language

Thursday, August 19th 2004, 2:40 pm
By: News On 6

More northeastern Oklahoma students went back to school Thursday. Jenks Public Schools kicked off their year with a program that puts a new twist on learning a foreign language.

As News on 6 anchor Scott Thompson explains, some young Jenks students at Jenks East Elementary, are getting a two-for-one deal, that’s two languages for one class.

Not only is the class taught in two languages, English and Spanish, but the students are split down the middle too. Half the students are native English speakers, the other half are native Spanish speakers.

The 22 kindergartners are the guinea pigs in Jenks' new experiment in foreign language. The idea is similar to language immersion classes, where youngsters are taught entirely in a foreign language. But this program is dual-language, with a teacher and a class who speak both languages.

Half the day is taught in Spanish, the other half in English. In the end, Jenks hopes to help both sets of students acquire a second language. Some of the kids were a little bewildered at first, but they're already starting to catch on. Dual language teacher Melissa Mills: "This morning we were already doing things like hands up hands down completely in Spanish everyone follows they're saying it with me so it’s just something that will take time. It is a challenge."

Melissa Mills says one of the biggest challenges is that at any given time half of her class might not understand what she's saying.