Clarke elementary school launching dual-languge immersion program

A Clarke County elementary school will launch the area’s first dual-language immersion program this year.The program at Oglethorpe Avenue will begin with two kindergarten classes this August, then grow by two classes per year for five years, through fifth grade, said Oglethorpe Avenue principal Scarlett Dunne.

The aim of the program is to give children instruction and a learning environment allowing them to be comfortable both speaking and writing Spanish and English after five years.

“It’s providing an opportunity to become bilingual and bi-literate in their local elementary school,” Dunne said.But research has also shown dual-language immersion programs help children in other areas as well, Dunne said — better at creative thinking, problem-solving and reasoning, and also in subject areas such as science.

The program will also give children an advantage later on in life, said Dunne, who researched the idea thoroughly before taking her proposal to Clarke County School Superintendent Philip Lanoue, including visiting immersion programs in some Western states. A bilingual, bi-literate high school graduate can average about $7,000 more in salary per year; for college graduates, it’s $15,000, she said.

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