Children in West Chicago District 33 may one day be fluent in two languages before they enter high school.

The district is studying language programs it may add to its curriculum, including dual immersion classes and “newcomer” courses.

Dual immersion classes offer English-speaking children Spanish instruction and Spanish-speaking children English instruction.

By the end of eighth grade, the students are fluent in both languages.

The newcomer program serves children from refugee camps with minimal previous schooling, including those from camps in Latin American countries.

It provides a six-month intensive literacy course in which children learn survival English phrases. Teachers introduce the American school system to the students’ parents.

The board at a meeting Thursday decided to form a 10-member committee of teachers and administrators to study the programs.

Board member Marie Doll also asked that the committee study a program for bilingual students at Indian Knoll School. The school has fewer than 20 students who are limited in English. Traditionally these students have been sent to Currier Elementary for bilingual instruction. Doll suggested some type of program at Indian Knoll School, the only school in district without a bilingual program.

“We’ve always been innovative in our (bilingual) programs,” Doll said. “I think we should continue to be.”

Officials will bring a report to the board in January 2000.

Karen Mulattieri, bilingual program coordinator, said District 33 has 3,800 students with a 45-percent Hispanic population. More than 1,000 students are in a bilingual program.

She said the district has been studying the performance of its bilingual program for two years. Officials hope new programs will improve test scores and allow students to enter mainstream classes faster. She said the state will pay for the programs.



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