New Spanish Language Program Could Debut Soon At Southampton Schools

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The Southampton School District has been approved to participate in a new Spanish-language program that will allow students the opportunity to increase their fluency in the language.

Students who enroll in the International Spanish Academy will work to earn a certificate from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport in Spain, stating that they have completed bilingual courses through the program, according to the Ministry of Education website. Students will become competent in Spanish by taking core class lessons in both English and Spanish, and the ministry says the certification will open up doors for them when they apply to colleges and begin their careers.

“This is very exciting for all of our students,” said Amy Pierson, the community relations specialist for the Southampton School District.

The district is eligible for the program through a dual language course that it already offers at the elementary school, Ms. Pierson explained. There, students in kindergarten through fifth grade are selected via lottery to participate in a Spanish immersion course of study, in which classes in various subjects are taught in both Spanish and English as a way of helping students who speak either language to become bilingual.

Even though the district’s preexisting dual language program enabled it to qualify for the new initiative, school officials stressed that all students—and not just those currently enrolled in the older program—can take the new course once it is offered.

Ms. Pierson added, however, that the district has not received any official paperwork from the International Spanish Academy as of this week, and does not yet know the exact guidelines for participation—not even when the program will first be offered. “We are not sure when it will all begin, or what the program encompasses,” she said. “It is still early.”

According to the International Spanish Academy website, participating school districts will be offered language and culture assistants, as well as education classes in Spain for teachers and administrators. Additionally, districts will be paired with partner schools in Spain, educational materials will be delivered to the participating districts, and Spanish teachers will visit with students.

Sarah Underhill Trujillo, a dual language teacher for the district, and Jane Greenfield, the district’s director of English as a second language and bilingual education, both worked together to bring the program to Southampton. Neither teacher was available for comment this week.

“This will provide an influx of resources for the district,” Ms. Pierson said.

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