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Manning School introduces ESL program for kindergartners

WESTMONT – Along with beginning all-day kindergarten classes, Miller Elementary School has begun a dual language kindergarten program this school year.

The students are taught throughout the day in Spanish and English – in Spanish about 80 percent of the curriculum and English in the remaining 20 percent.

Thirteen of Miller’s 28 kindergartners have enrolled in the program, some of whom come from Spanish-speaking families, and others who come from English-speaking families who want their children to be bilingual, according to the school.

Leading the program is kindergarten teacher Elizabeth Garcia, a native of Mexico with an English as a Second Language endorsement.

Garcia said she spent her grade school years and into high school in Mexico. Early on, she said she saw herself as a teacher, even as an ESL teacher.

“Coming here to Westmont has just been a joy,” she said. “I consider myself very lucky to be working as a dual-language teacher. I can’t wait to see how my students will grow throughout the year.”

As a dual language teacher, what does your curriculum consist of? It’s implementing 80 percent Spanish and 20 percent English. ... The goal is for the students to be biliterate, reading and writing in Spanish and English, and bilingual, speaking Spanish and English.

Why is it important to start learning a second language at a young age? It’s important because now the opportunities in this country require you to know both languages. ... Professionally it’s helped me
find better opportunities as a teacher and it will help my students be successful when they’re older.

Why did you want to come to Westmont? I’m an early childhood teacher so when I saw the kindergarten position, I was so excited and I was very lucky to be chosen as the new teacher. Now that I’m in the district, I can see the community and everyone has welcomed me. It’s been wonderful coming here.

What goals do you have for the school year? To learn more about dual language. I also want my students to succeed academically and socially... We want them to feel the joy of coming to school and to prepare them for the journey of learning.

What is the secret to a successful year of teaching? For me having a great year, I really want the students to be motivated from day one... I truly believe in collaborating with colleagues and families and letting the parents know that I’ll do anything to make their sons or daughters have a successful year. I truly believe in working together as a team with the community and teachers – that’s the biggest component.

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