Dual-language immersion programs serve needs of Minnesota students

Brittany O'Connor presented a typical math lesson to her third-graders Tuesday, but she taught it in an unconventional way - in Spanish.O'Connor's 23 students are part of Little Canada Elementary School's growing dual-language immersion program - the Roseville school district initiative that pairs students who want to learn Spanish and native speakers with limited English skills.

School officials say the concept has a proven track record nationally of boosting the academic achievement of native and new English speakers, with students emerging from the program after middle school fluent in two languages.

Teaching much of the day in another language is not something O'Connor, a Minnesota native who minored in Spanish in college, expected to do when she began her teaching career. But her time studying abroad helped prepare her, and consistent use of the language has improved her fluency.

"I try my best to be bilingual," she said. "It's getting easier, but it can still be difficult."

Read more here (Duluth News Tribune)