SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Students who attend McKinley Elementary School will soon learn in two languages, as the Santa Barbara Unified School District is set to start a dual-language immersion program.
Next fall, English and Spanish will be taught to all kindergartners on campus.
According to McKinley principal Elena Garcia-Yoshitomi, it aims to teach children a second language while maintaining their native tongue.
“We have so much enthusiasm for dual language immersion,” she said. “This has been a long road coming."
“Imagine students speaking in two languages,” Santa Barbara Unified executive director of diversity, equity, and family engagement programs Maria Larios-Horton said. “Being able to learn and collaborate no matter what their background."
As a result of its strong Spanish speaking population, McKinley was selected as the site for this new school.
“We have to have strong Spanish speaking students to support our non-Spanish speaking students in the classroom,” Garcia-Yoshitomi said.
The DLI program will start off with kindergartners spending 90% of their studies in Spanish and 10% in English.
By 5th grade, the Spanish and English instruction will increase to 50% split.
“Any student that attends this school will have that bilingual advantage,” Garcia-Yoshitomi said.
McKinley has hired new teachers and created new curriculum for the DLI program.
The hope is to prepare students for more challenging courses once they reach Junior High.
“It's also going to be important that our students come away learning about their own history here in Santa Barbara,” Larios-Horton said.
As the years pass by, this campus will offer all students a unique opportunity to be strong in two languages.
“We will see very engaged bilingual, biliterate students by the time they leave our campus,” Larios-Horton said.
McKinley Elementary School is hosting an open-campus event on Saturday April 17th from 9:30 a.m. till 12:30 p.m.
To learn more about the DLI program, you can visit SB Unified’s website.