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Consultant helps achieve dual language at EPISD

The El Paso Independent School District wants its student to be fluent in two languages at an early age.

EPISD’s Two-Way Dual Language Program follows a 50/50 model.

Teachers give instruction fifty-percent of the time in English and fifty-percent of the time in Spanish.

The goals of the program are for students to become bilingual and bi-literate, to have high academic achievement, to be culturally competent, and to have high self-esteem and leadership skills.

EPISD also hosts dual language consultant Dr. Jose Medina to teach educators best practices for the classroom.

Dr. Medina owns his own consulting firm, Dr. Jose Medina Educational Solutions, and travels the world sharing his knowledge and experience.

“El Paso ISD is one of the few large urban districts that has really scaled and said that everyone of our students is going to have the gift of bilingualism and biliteracy which is a huge step,” Medina said.

He is no stranger to El Paso, Medina was born and raised in the region and started his career as a teacher in El Paso.

Medina said it could be challenging for educators to learn new practices for achieving dual language because for so many years students were taught to separate languages.

“Perhaps you and I took a foreign language in high school, but really most of the instruction was in English and then we had a chance to practice it at the end of the class. The difference with dual language is that our students, even at pre-K and Kinder are learning math, science, social studies in both languages.”

The goals of achieving dual language include being able to use one language as a support to grow and strengthen the other language, reaching high levels of academic achievement in all content areas and learning sociocultural competence.

“Sociocultural competence is the ability to see the similarities and differences in each other, but to see the differences as opportunities to connect rather than obstacles to overcome,” Medina said.

Medina’s practices also include not shying away from speaking Spanglish, the mixture of English and Spanish.

“The fact that I can speak in both is an asset not a deficit,” Medina said.

“It’s about knowing when to use it and when it’s appropriate.”

The mixture of both languages doesn’t have to happen all the time, but educators should find opportunities to make cross-linguistics connections, according to Medina.

“It doesn’t make sense that a student should not understand that triangulo and triangle are the exact same words. So why not plan for those cross-linguistics connections so that the kids can really strengthen that one linguistic repertoire,” said Medina.

Dr. Medina visits EPISD up to four times a year to help strengthen curriculum.

This week, the Socorro Independent School District announced it will implement dual language academies at two of its elementary school campuses in the 2019-2020 academic year.

“We anticipate a huge demand for Academia de Dos Idiomas among both our native Spanish and English speakers,” said Lucia Borrego, Chief Academic Officer in a statement.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our students as it will help them become global citizens that are competitive in a diverse market economy.”

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