Wawona Middle School and Rowell Elementary School will soon offer bilingual classrooms as part of Fresno Unified’s expansion of dual immersion programs.
Dual immersion, or “two-way” programs, lead class in English 10 percent of the time and in Spanish 90 percent of the time, then slowly move that ratio to 50/50. The programs aim to graduate fluent, bilingual students.
The district announced Friday that Wawona Middle – which enrolls 7th and 8th graders in the Bullard High area – will serve students as young as transitional kindergarten starting in the fall, immersing them in the Spanish language.
Rowell Elementary, located in the McLane High area, will also become a dual immersion school next school year.
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“We know when students are bi-or-tri-lingual that they are smarter kids. Their brain activity is just firing at all cylinders,” Fresno Unified school board president Brooke Ashjian said. “This is just the beginning. Eventually kids could be speaking Mandarin at our schools.”
The district is investing more than $600,000 to start building the programs at the two schools – part of a $2.5 million investment to expand bilingual programs announced last year.
Yosemite Middle School and Ewing, Levenworth and Sunset elementary schools already offer dual immersion programs.