Markell Announces Expansion of Del. Language Immersion Program - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Markell Announces Expansion of Del. Language Immersion Program

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Gov. Markell speaking to a group of elementary school students at WB Simpson Elementary School in Wyoming. (Photo: WBOC) Gov. Markell speaking to a group of elementary school students at WB Simpson Elementary School in Wyoming. (Photo: WBOC)

WYOMING, Del.- Gov. Jack Markell announced plans Monday to expand Delaware's language immersion program to students after they leave elementary school.

Right now,  2,125 students in grades K-3 are learning in Chinese and Spanish immersion classrooms in 16 schools across the state, according to the governor's office. They say by this fall, that number will increase to almost 3,000 students in grades K-4 in 22 school across the state.

The students spend half their school day learning in Mandarin Chinese or Spanish. 

Markell joined students Monday from across the Caesar Rodney School District for a celebratory event at WB Simpson Elementary School highlighting the work of the immersion program.

"These children already are speaking, writing and learning in their immersion language each day," he said. "With our commitment, these children will graduate from our public schools with the language skills to compete in an ever-changing global economy at home and around the world."

Andrea LaMotte of Dover has a student in the Caesar Rodney School District who is participating in the immersion program. She says the experience has been valuable for her family, especially when her second grade daughter Abigail acted as translator when the family traveled to adopt a child from China.

"As I would try and talk to him and explain things in English, she was able to talk to him in Chinese," she said. "[She was] able to tell him what we were doing and just sing songs that he knew, and she helped him feel really comfortable."

A 12-member middle school immersion advisory committee has been studying how to expand the program. Caesar Rodney Superintendent Kevin Fitzgerald is supportive of the program in his district.

"Our children are improving their fluency while also continuing to progress in their other academic subjects," he said. "The language proficiency they are gaining will continue to benefit them throughout their lives."

Kent and Sussex County schools participating in the Mandarin Chinese program:

Caesar Rodney SD
J. Ralph McIlvaine Early Childhood Center (K)
Allen J. Frear Elementary School (1-4)
WB Simpson Elementary School (1-4)

Kent and Sussex County schools participating in the Spanish program:

Caesar Rodney SD
J. Ralph McIlvaine Early Childhood Center (K)
W. Reily Brown Elementary School (1-2)

Capital School District
South Dover Elementary School (K-3)
Fairview Elementary School (K)

Milford SD
Morris Early Childhood Center (K)

Seaford School District
Blades Elementary School (K-5)
West Seaford Elementary School (K-2)
Central Elementary School (3)
Frederick Douglass Elementary School (3)

Smyrna SD
North Smyrna Elementary School (K)

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