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It was considered experimental in 1963 when the school, which is now Coral Way K-8 Center, became the nation’s first dual-language immersion public school. Fifty-four years later, it’s a confirmed success, with generations of kids having graduated, fluent in Spanish and English.
“Well, we know that language acquisition is best at an early age. That’s why we start them actually in Pre-K. In our Pre-K, we have Spanish instruction,” said the principal, Barbara Martin.
The school’s chorus performs songs in both languages, and that’s the just the start.
“All of our classes include bilingual education, whether they go to art, whether they’re in music, whether they’re in band,” said lead teacher Susana Cordova Martin.
We saw a 6th-grade math class being taught in Spanish, and every student understood the lesson. Likewise, a third-grade science class was being taught in English. The students here think nothing of switching from one language to the other.
“Our students leave our school fully bilingual and bi-literate, meaning they can read, write, and communicate in Spanish,” Cordova Martin said.
The value of having that skill in this increasingly global, increasingly connected society is incalculable.
The school also offers the international studies program, which entails staying after school for an hour, four days a week, as part of a curriculum approved by the Spanish government.
“So it’s not only an academic opportunity, it’s also an enrichment opportunity because students are exposed to Spanish culture,” principal Martin said.
Eighth-graders can even take AP Spanish, for which they receive college credit, in middle school. So from science to math to social studies to the arts, we can say: “elogia a tu escuela” – that’s “brag about your school” in Spanish.