Kilgore ISD is currently accepting registrations into their dual-language kindergarten program and ESL Director Dan Stanley is encouraging parents to visit the department’s website to register in place of face-to-face meetings.

“We usually have meetings in the spring with parents that want to enroll but we just couldn’t have those this year (due to the COVID-19 pandemic). It’s been kind of tough to do our recruiting at the same time. We’re going through our kiddos that are enrolled and we’re sure to ask those but we wanted to be sure we hit everybody else too,” Stanley said.

Instead of face-to-face meetings with interested parents, Stanley said the department has a safer way to enroll or learn more about the program.

“We have a flyer that has a QR code on it. Parents can use that QR code, it takes them right to the district’s bilingual ESL website. On that page, there’s a description of ‘how do I enroll my kiddo in dual-language kindergarten?’ There’s a video that I made that explains the critical points of the program to help parents know what they’re getting into. There’s a frequently asked questions document for a little bit of extra reading and there’s an application there too.”

At this point, Stanley isn’t sure how many will enroll for the 2020-21 school year compared to previous years because the district isn’t entirely sure on how it will handle the registration process in the fall.

“Right now that’s kind of up in the air,” he said.

“We don’t have as many that are enrolled in the dual-language kindergarten because we haven’t had our typical enrollment programs. We typically get a lot of parents that come to the One-Stop Registration that we have in August but we’re not even sure about that right now.”

“The great thing about this program is that we went out and looked at all of the research and what works for students that are learning a second language. We were focused on our students that are learning English and we were wondering how can they get the most out of their education. That’s when we came across this Gomez & Gomez dual-language program.”

This program, which KISD has been using since 2014, was developed by two brothers seeking a better way to teach students a second language.

“It’s additive, not subtractive,” Stanley said.

“Most dual-language programs focus on one language. They focus on, by the end you need English, so we’re going to give you more and more English as you go through and drop that first language for the second language. We don’t do that. We keep it going 50-50 all the way. The benefit is, 90 percent of what you learn in either English or Spanish translates to the other language.”

This approach helps students learn more quickly and comprehensively as they progress through lessons and grade levels. Students in the program will attend classes which are taught entirely in Spanish and some others which are taught entirely in English. They’re also encouraged to turn to their assigned learning partner when they have a question instead of simply asking the teacher. This helps them develop their social skills, cooperative skills and instills confidence in their own capability to learn, Stanley said.

The department’s website describes the program’s goals.

“We are excited to continue our implementation of our Dual Language Program in the 2020-2021 school year,” the page reads.

“We offer One-Way Dual Language for our native Spanish-speaking English learners as the bilingual program of choice, and we continue Two-Way Dual Language classrooms in Kindergarten through Fourth Grade for our native English speaking children to receive the academic and language benefits of this rigorous program model. The first cohorts lead the way in developing a quality program to prepare our students to be academically bilingual and biliterate. Using the Gomez and Gomez Dual Language Enrichment model, Kilgore Primary, Chandler Elementary, and Kilgore Intermediate Schools are paving the way for a culture of bilingualism on the campuses and throughout the district.”

To register a student for the dual-language program, learn more or ask questions, visit www.kisd.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=275180&type=d&pREC_ID=669374 or www.facebook.com/kilgoreisdduallanguage.

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