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UCPS leads state in dual language immersion programs

There are nine UCPS schools that offer the Splash programs, seven in Spanish and two in Mandarin Chinese.

Union County Public Schools’ nine Splash Language Immersion programs have established the school system as a leader in North Carolina. Shiloh, Sun Valley and Marvin elementary schools started the trend by being the first UCPS schools to have the program.

VIF International Education, the leading provider of dual language programs for North Carolina schools, announced Friday (June 27, 2014) that Union County Public Schools leads the state in dual language immersion programs, offering its Splash Language Immersion programs at nine schools in the district starting in the 2014-15 school year.

The language immersion programs are being implemented throughout Union County Public Schools in the 2014-15 school year, offering programs in Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.

There are nine UCPS schools that offer the Splash programs, seven in Spanish and two in Mandarin Chinese. Those that offer Spanish are Shiloh, Sun Valley, Antioch, Western Union, Poplin, Weddington, Unionville elementary schools. Those that offer Mandarin Chinese are Marvin and Kensington elementary schools.

“Our first Splash cohort began in 2012 and now we are offering the program at nine schools,” said Superintendent Dr. Mary Ellis. “We are developing bilingual and biliterate students and preparing them for careers in a global and innovative marketplace.”

After only two or three years in an immersion program, students have been shown to demonstrate fluency and confidence when using the immersion language. The language program uses specially designed educational materials and lessons that are used to introduce grammar and vocabulary as well as the structure of the language.

According to a VIF International Education press release, the extent of language immersion offerings in the Union County Public Schools district is unlike any other of its size, and the district is helping North Carolina meet State Board of Education commitments to develop globally competent students and provide more North Carolina students with the benefits of language immersion.

The language immersion offerings will provide students in the county with opportunities to excel in their core studies while becoming bilingual and culturally aware.

Within North Carolina, more and more school districts are harnessing the benefits of dual language immersion options. Language immersion programs provide solutions to an array of issues that schools and districts face including low academic proficiency, under-enrollment and loss of students to private and charter school options.

Five North Carolina school districts will grow existing Splash Language Immersion programs and three districts will expand their K-5 immersion programs into middle schools through VIF's Splash Spanish Language and Culture course, which promotes a discovery-based approach to teaching and learning grammar, builds on students’ competence in the target language and provides meaningful global studies contexts to foster continued growth of language skills.

In Splash Language Immersion classrooms, up to 90 percent of core subject matter is taught in a target language, either Spanish or Mandarin, producing students who are bilingual and biliterate. These increasingly important skills promote high student achievement and give students a competitive advantage in today’s global marketplace.

Children who learn in two languages also benefit from increased critical thinking skills, cognitive development and executive function. In addition, recent test results show that K-5 students participating in Splash Language Immersion programs surpass their peers in reading, math and science, and they are outpacing state averages in proficiency.

“What excites VIF’s partner schools the most is that these results hold true regardless of socioeconomic or demographic variables. Whatever the school environment, our Splash dual language programs produce positive results,” said VIF CEO David Young.

Language immersion has taken off nationally, as well as in North Carolina, as an innovative choice for students and families interested in increasing proficiency in students’ first and second languages, cultural literacy and overall academic performance. By partnering with VIF to expand its Splash Language Immersion programs, Union County Public Schools is reinforcing its commitment to creating global-ready, high-performing students.

About VIF International Education

VIF International Education (www.vifprogram.com) builds global education programs that prepare students for success in an interconnected world. For more than 25 years, educators have leveraged VIF’s professional development and curriculum, language acquisition and teacher exchange programs to generate engaging learning environments where students can excel in core curriculum as well as develop valuable critical and creative thinking skills. A certified B Corp and ‘Best for the World’ honoree headquartered in Chapel Hill, N.C., VIF provides a pathway for teachers, schools and districts to become globally designated.

About Splash Language Immersion

Splash programs provide a comprehensive package to develop and maintain consistent, high-quality K-8 world language programs in North Carolina. In a Splash dual language immersion classroom, VIF provides teachers with tools to promote academic achievement through enrichment rather than remediation. Students, in turn, excel in their core studies while becoming bilingual and culturally aware. All Splash teachers receive support and ongoing training, and can join an online community of educators in the VIF learning center, where they have access to Global Gateway professional development and a robust library of curricular tools and classroom resources.

Tags: language immersion, dual language, world language, bilingual, biliterate, Spanish, Mandarin, global competence, global awareness, cultural awareness, global schools, global education, international education, curriculum, K-12, student achievement, North Carolina schools.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Jul 07, 2014 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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