World Language Immersion Program Expands for 2015-16 School Year

Next fall, more than 2,300 kindergarten through third grade students will be enrolled in Governor Jack Markell’s World Language Expansion Initiative, as six more schools across the state begin offering students the opportunity to participate in an elementary immersion program studying either Mandarin Chinese or Spanish.

The initiative launched in the 2012-13 school year with four programs in three elementary schools. An annual investment of $1.9 million will support programs reaching nearly 10,000 students in K-8 immersion programs by 2022.

“We know that the most natural language learning and the most effective language instruction happens when students start the process as early as possible. By continuing to expand language learning in Delaware, we have the chance to provide our kids an edge in a multilingual and multicultural workforce and meet our need to build a talent base in Delaware that will compete, lead and win on a global stage,” said Markell, who announced the expansion this afternoon at an event celebrating a new partnership with Wanxiang that will give Delaware high school students the chance to study abroad in China.

Schools already participating in the initiative include: Caesar Rodney School District’s McIlvaine Early Childhood Center, Frear Elementary and Simpson Elementary (all Mandarin Chinese); Capital School District’s South Dover Elementary (Spanish); Christina School District’s Downes (Mandarin Chinese) and Pulaski (Spanish) elementary schools; Indian River School District’s Clayton and East Millsboro elementary schools (both Spanish); Red Clay Consolidated School District’s Lewis Elementary (Spanish); and Seaford School District’s Blades and West Seaford elementary schools (both Spanish).

An additional six schools in five districts will begin offering the program for the 2015-2016 school year. They are:

  • Spanish Immersion Programs
    • Appoquinimink School District’s Townsend Early Childhood Center continuing to Silver Lake Elementary
    • Appoquinimink School District’s Townsend Early Childhood Center continuing to Townsend Elementary
    • Brandywine School District’s Claymont Elementary
    • Capital School District’s East Dover Elementary School
    • Colonial School District’s Wilbur Elementary
  • Mandarin Chinese Immersion Programs
    • Colonial School District’s New Castle Elementary School

In addition, students participating in the first year of implementation of Spanish immersion at McIlvaine Early Childhood Center will continue their involvement at Brown Elementary School.

Delaware’s immersion model includes 50 percent instruction in the world language and 50 percent in English. Classes have two teachers – one for each language. The program includes one-way immersion, with predominantly native English speakers, as well as two-way immersion, with two language groups such as native English and native Spanish speakers. In the program, children are taught academic content in both languages. The focus is to build proficiency. The Delaware kindergarteners entering the program will be able to continue their immersion study into middle school and achieve Advanced Placement credit in ninth grade. In high school, they will be encouraged to study an additional language as well as continue their immersion language study through dual credit offerings.

Appoquinimink Superintendent Matt Burrows is excited his district will be offering two programs next year.

“Giving our students exposure to an internationally-focused education and fluency in more than one language means Delaware grads will be highly sought after by top colleges, universities and employers not only for their language skills, but for their ability to interact effectively with people around the world in either their first or second language,” he said.

Learn more about Appoquinimink’s immersion program by watching this video (