Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, students in D205 will have the opportunity to enroll in a dual language program (Spanish/English) at Conrad Fischer Elementary.

The classes will be regular curriculum classes taught in both English and Spanish, with an equal mix of native English speakers and native Spanish speakers. There will be at least 50% of instruction in each level, and the curriculum will match the regular English curriculum.

The program is aimed at not only helping native Spanish speakers learn English but also to help native English speakers become truly fluent in Spanish.

While providing bilingual classrooms and curriculum is mandatory for all public schools in Illinois who have 20 or more students of one language in the school, a dual language program goes a step further to fully integrate two cultures. The hope is that both groups will pick up a second language and emerge from the program fully fluent in both languages.

The goal of the program is that by the end of elementary school, all students in the program are fluent in both languages and have academic performance that exceeds their monolingual counterparts.

A recent study revealed that students who complete a dual language program enter middle school outperforming their peers by as much as one grade level in all subjects.

It’s a win-win situation where Spanish students will develop their native language rather than losing it (and close the gap between Spanish-speaking students and their English-speaking counterparts) while English speakers will add a second language without sacrificing English development.

For the first year, the program will focus on kindergarten, but it is expected to continue through fifth grade.

There were concerns from some parents that teachers wouldn’t be able to teach enough Spanish while others were concerned that the school doesn’t have enough room. Current plans involve extensive language training for teachers over the summer and two classrooms dedicated to the program.

There are numerous benefits to speaking two languages including increased executive functioning, protection against cognitive decline, and a cultural awareness, sensitivity, and appreciation for other languages and cultures.

And in this world of global citizenry, it’s hard to argue with that.

We’re so proud of Elmhurst for taking this leap and embracing a truly bilingual program. To learn more about our amazing schools and community, call us at (630) 441-5570 or visit www.gmregroup.com