TISD Bilingual Programs Push Kids Ahead Of The Class

Some East Texas students will get a chance their parents never had. They will learn a secondary language while still in kindergarten.

It's part of Tyler's two-way bilingual program, where kids are taught in English and Spanish simultaneously. Some 80 kindergartners at Birdwell and Orr Elementary Schools are participating in the program this year.

Kids who speak English as their native language will spend part of their day with an all-Spanish speaking teacher. And vice-versa. The classes will then switch, so students can learn basic curriculum in their native tongue.TISD launched the program last year.

The need for more bilingual teachers has prompted the district to hire 15 new teachers from Spain. Bilingual teacher Lourdes Diaz-Carmona came from Spain four years ago. She is now teaching kids as young as five how to converse in Spanish.

"With are increased international trade, our global market economy, it's just very important for us to offer students a program like this that can make them bi-literate to have more options to them as they graduate," said Janet Trump, director of bilingual education.

The program's first group is now a year older, and will continue their Spanish studies in first grade. The school district's goal is for the kids to master English and Spanish before graduating from high school.

Parents enter their kids into the program on a volunteer basis. Only those kids with a strong aptitude for language are added to the list.