Saugus to hold dual immersion discussion

Dr. Hawkins engages in a conversation with both parents and guardians of the school district to discuss her vision for the upcoming school year, and beyond. Eddy Martinez/The SIgnal.

The Saugus Union School District will hold a presentation Tuesday to discuss a prospective dual immersion language program that will likely be approved for two kindergarten classes at a school site that’s yet to be determined.

Shortly after Colleen Hawkins assumed the position of superintendent, she hosted three “Coffee with the Superintendent” meetings at the beginning of the semester to introduce herself to the parents, staff and stakeholders of the district.

The idea of a dual-immersion program was a topic that piqued a lot of interest at each of the three different school sites that hosted meetings.

“Our kids would be biliterate by the time they’re in sixth grade,” Hawkins said to attendees after they asked for more information on the program.

“Basically, what you do is start with a group of kindergartners,” and choose a target language, such as Spanish, Korean or Vietnamese, that you want the kids to know, Hawkins said. The young children are then put into a classroom mixed with children who speak one of the chosen languages.

During the first year, students are instructed using only the target language for about 90 percent of time spent in class, Hawkins said. “By the end of third grade, students transition to a 50-50 model, which is 50 percent English and 50 percent the target language,” and by the time they finish seventh grade, students have finished their high school foreign language requirements, are completely bilingual and are prepared to learn a third language, such as Mandarin, Hawkins said.

“It’s an amazing, amazing program,” Hawkins said, before adding there were a few steps Saugus must take before establishing a dual-immersion program.

However, it appears the district is at least ready to begin the discussion, according to Tuesday’s agenda. The district is proposing a target language of Spanish, and more details will be offered Tuesday during the district’s meeting of the governing board, which begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Education Center, 24930 Avenue Stanford, Santa Clarita.

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