Woodstock District 200 hosted its third annual dual language parent education night Thursday at Creekside Middle School. The event offered parents and students a chance to participate in multicultural activities and see class projects, hear live music and take part in a variety of different workshops and classes aimed at discussing the benefits and experiences of cultural immersion and dual language programs.
The district’s language program is a Spanish-English two-way immersion. Students in the program study various subjects such as social studies or science in both languages in order to promote bilingualism and biliteracy. The program is fairly uncommon, said Kim Potowski, an author and professor of Hispanic linguistics in the Department of Hispanic and Italian studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
“There are parents knocking on doors to get into these across the country,” she said. “I think most recent estimates said there are about 1,000 to 2,000 schools like this nationwide, and there really should be more.”
Woodstock parent Natalie Gaudio-Fricano said she was excited to take advantage of the program when her kids enrolled. She has a kindergartner and second-grader in the dual language program.
“We think it’s important to learn a second language, and we like the option that they can start young,” she said. “So when they are at a high school level, they can move on to a third language. … We have so far been impressed with the way they are learning.”
Hundreds show up for the annual event, with attendance topping about 350 last year, said Keely Krueger, coordinator of the event and director of grants in the district’s language and culture department.
A major benefit is for the families with children in the program to learn more about dual language education and research, she said.
“They’re learning about dual language education, so biliteracy and bilingualism,” she said. “Strategies to work on at home, transitions and what to expect in middle school and high school. There’s a variety.”