EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) - Some students at Longellow Elementary School are entering their third year of an English-Spanish dual language immersion program.
The Eau Claire Area School District's dual immersion program started in the fall of 2019, teaching kids how to speak, read and write in both English and Spanish.
Longfellow Elementary School houses the kindergarten, first grade and second grade students of the district-wide program.
Principal Sarah Fisher said they have about 16 kindergarteners in the program this school year, which is a little down from 22 kindergarteners when they started in 2019.
Fisher contributes the slight decrease to families wanting their children to learn virtually during the pandemic, but she's optimistic enrollment will go up.
"In essence, when you learn about other people, you're learning about yourself, too, your own sort of lens on the world, language and culture. And I really support the idea of it being additive. When you learn another language, you're not replacing the old one. The whole point is, 'Yay, I know this one language and now I know another.' And that really produces good, thoughtful citizens," Fisher said.
Fisher added that research shows bilingual kids often reach higher levels of academic achievement than their monolingual peers.
She also said the students who started as kindergarteners with the curriculum who are now second graders have progressed so much.
Numbers in the program can fluctuate with families moving in and out of the school district.
Officials usually aim to have 50 percent of students to have Spanish as their first language, and 50 percent to have English as their first language, but interestingly enough, Fisher said currently, they have nearly 20 students who are native English speakers on the waiting list who are trying to get a spot in the program.
Fisher said the lottery for next school year's dual immersion kindergarten class will open soon so be on the lookout on the district's website.