Withers Dual Language

The Dual Language program has two sections here at Withers. There is Two Way Dual Language, which pairs an English speaking students with a bi-lingual Spanish speaking student, with the intent of enhancing the academic experience for all children. The Dual Language One Way section places predominantly Spanish speaking students in a program that combines English only instruction and Spanish language instruction to promote both conceptual learning and English language proficiency.

Dual Language Two Way: The Two Way Dual Language program at Withers is an opportunity for English speaking students to become English/Spanish bilingual and bi-literate by the time they complete the 5th grade. Through the integration of a second language in the daily routine, as well as heavy reliance on working with student partners, the experience builds academic strengths as well as linguistic skills.

The program pairs English speaking students and bilingual Spanish speaking students during the presentation of curriculum including science, social studies, etc. During these sessions, the teacher speaks only in Spanish, and the students work together to translate the information and complete assignments, which are also done in Spanish after first grade.

Some classes are not taught in this format.  In Kindergarten, Language Arts is always taught in the native language of the student (ie: English speakers learn in English, Spanish Speakers learn in Spanish). Starting in First grade, half of instruction is in English, half is in Spanish.  Math is taught in English.

The dual language program is based on the model Drs. Leo and Richard Gomez developed in Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD in South Texas in the 1990s. They continue to research and enhance the program, to ensure that results are maximized.

At Withers, the Two Way Dual Language program has been in place since the 2007-2008 school year, and each year a new grade is folded into the program. By the 2012-2013 the Two Way Dual Language program will be available from Kindergarten through the 5th grade. Withers is also actively working with the administration at E.D. Walker Middle School to continue the program from sixth through eighth grade.

If you are interested in placing your child into the Two Way Dual Language program, there are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Spaces are limited. For incoming kindergarten in 2011-2012, there were 22 spaces available for English Speaking students in this program. Preference is given to siblings of existing students, then Withers-zoned students. If the spaces are not filled by Withers-zoned students, students from outside of the Withers zone will be considered. If there are more Withers-zone children than available spots, a lottery will be held with all qualified applicants.

2. Commitment is expected. Students begin the Two Way program in kindergarten and stay with the program through the fifth grade. In order to keep the program strong; the expectation is for all students who begin this program to stay in it all the way through. However, spots will only be filled during the kindergarten year and at the beginning of first grade. After that, “catching up” would be too difficult.

3. The program is rigorous. In order to complete the standard educational requirements at each grade level, as well as introduce additional language concepts, the students will be expected to keep up with all class work and assignments. Success is achievable, but students and their families must be willing to put in the time to ensure work, in both languages, is being comprehended and completed.

Traditional Education For families who do not wish to participate in the Dual Language programs, a Traditional Learning Program is always available at Withers. Here, all classes are taught in English. The faculty uses the latest tools and techniques to ensure students maximize their learning at a level that is suitable to their skills. In addition to core classes of math, English, science and social studies, students attend music, physical education, and art classes weekly. They also regularly spend time in the library and computer lab.

Dual Language One Way The One Way Dual Language program is a key element to the Gomez and Gomez dual language model. Through tried and tested strategies, students learn in English for some subjects and Spanish for Language Arts, increasing both literacy and linguistics in each language.

Withers staff will with work with each family at the time of enrollment to determine the English language proficiency of the student. Based on that evaluation, students will be placed into this program, and tested at the end of each year for English language and general academic progress.