Dual Language Immersion Program Proposed for 2 Elementary Schools

A dual-language immersion program is coming to two Loudoun County elementary schools. 

During the Aug. 16 Special Programs and Centers Committee meeting, school district staff members announced Potowmack Elementary School in Sterling and Sanders Corner Elementary School in Ashburn were selected to host the program, which could launch next fall.

The plan is to have two kindergarten classes per school teaching 50/50 English and Spanish with the teachers switching halfway through the day, meaning students would learn Spanish for half of the day and English for the other half.

Suzette Wyhs, supervisor of world languages and cultures, told the committee that students would be learning to read in two languages simultaneously.

“They will be receiving reading instruction, writing instruction and literacy basically in Spanish and English on top of being provided access to content,” Wyhs said. She said that means they will be able to learn math in Spanish, as well. 

The plan, according to Wyhs, is to add one grade level each year starting with kindergarten during the 2023-23 school year, then add first grade the following year and so on. “By the sixth year, all grades K-5 will be included in the program,” said Wyhs.

Neil Slevin, executive director of teaching and learning, said they were excited to provide another expanded opportunity for students.

The schools were selected through a process that included an interest survey that was sent out in June. That survey revealed a high interest in having a dual language immersion program in the county, according to the presentation. The next step was an information session on June 29 for all principals. Interested schools then submitted their forms by July 29 saying they were interested in hosting the program. A committee then used a decision matrix to determine which two would be recommended. 

Committee Chair Brenda Sheridan (Sterling) pointed out that the school interest survey stood out to her the most in the process.

“If a school isn’t interested it won’t be successful, because you just can’t tell a school they are going to do it. So that piece just really stands out to me, and making sure the schools want to do it. If they buy in, then they will be successful,” she said. 

School Board member Tom Marshall (Leesburg) said he was excited and hopes the program is extended further once it gets going. 

In deciding which schools to choose, school staff members looked at criteria including alignment with the community interest survey, leadership interest, the capacity of the building which also included any boundary changes, transportation, the English Learner population, and the percentage of the home language—in this case, Spanish—for the 50/50 model. Other languages considered were Korean, Chinese and Japanese.

A one-year timeline was presented to show when the program would start in the two schools, projected to start with the 2023-2024 school year.

The dual language program was previously approved through the budget process. It will now go to another vote from the School Board, although the date of that vote is not yet set.

8 thoughts on “Dual Language Immersion Program Proposed for 2 Elementary Schools

  • 2022-09-09 at 3:53 pm
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    Simply more evidence of the bi-lingual America efforts. I am very much in favor of giving students more linguistic options as I motioned for and was successful introducing Mandarin into LCPS but IT WAS A CHOICE! Job opportunities for LCPS graduates are far greater if they learn foreign languages that are not common to the domestic population – thats why they call them FOREIGN languages! (farsi, urdu, mandarin, japanese, french, arabic etc)

  • 2022-09-09 at 4:09 pm
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    Have you looked at the scores you cannot do the job as is and now you will fail in two languages, crying out loud!

  • 2022-09-10 at 7:07 am
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    Research shows these programs are a complete waste of money.

    But now, some students will be able to ensure the accuracy of their orders when they get fast food. Hooray!! I wonder when Dems will propose making Spanish our national language for “diversity”.

    • 2022-09-11 at 9:50 pm
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      I support this idea and the cost involved so long as it’s optional. I would have easily signed my kids up for this. It makes being a supervisor/manager easier when you can speak Spanish.

    • 2022-09-12 at 11:36 am
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      They say that someone who speaks two languages is referred to as “bilingual”, someone who speaks three languages is referred to as “trilingual”, and someone who only speaks one language is “American”. What a great opportunity for our youth to defeat that stigma, and to push the boundaries of development in literacy and language!

  • 2022-09-12 at 10:11 am
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    The kids are forced to learn Spanish. How stupid.

  • 2022-09-12 at 12:01 pm
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    We live in a multi-lingual world and this initiative is vital for our very smart and capable children to compete in our global economy. Coupled with the fact that it is easier to learn languages at a young age, this is a no brainer. If you have ever traveled around the world for work, fluency in more than one language provides a competitive advantage. Ignore this at your peril. Yes we need to emphasize the basics, reading, writing, math — but ability to speak more than one language has become table stakes for us to empower our kids to compete on a global scale.

    • 2022-09-13 at 3:14 pm
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      Ilerman, you just demonstrates why this diversion is a problem. You were incapable of finding the research that these programs fail in making students bilingual. You failed in finding data that shows being bilingual generates higher income. Basically, you showed you are incapable of using data, facts, research or logic effectively but still advocate for wasting money and student time on an ineffective program whose promised “benefits” have no basis in reality.

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