In 1994, MacArthur started District 54’s first English Spanish dual language program with one kindergarten classroom. Each year the program grew, and MacArthur now has dual-language classrooms at every grade level. When the first class was ready to enter junior high school, District 54 started a dual-language program at Eisenhower Junior High as well.
The Dual Language Program is unique because all children in the classroom learn two languages and cultures. It is comprised of two groups of students, native English speakers and native speakers of a language other than English. Each student is both a language expert and a language learner, so all students are at the same level.
The goals of the program are as follows:
The program’s success led to more and more parents wanting to enroll their children in dual language. Therefore, over the years, District 54 has added English-Spanish dual language programs at Enders-Salk, Hanover Highlands and Link elementary schools and Keller Junior High School. In addition, Dooley Elementary School and Addams Junior High School now have Japanese-English Dual Language Programs.
MacArthur Elementary is one of 97 schools recognized as an International Spanish Academy in the United States and Canada. MacArthur received this honor in 2007. Through the memorandum of understanding between MacArthur and District 54 and the Spanish Ministry of Education, MacArthur has benefited in the following ways:
After six to seven years of instruction, the goals of the Dual Language Program are:
For native English speakers, your child will have the gift of developing Spanish as a second language at an early age while continuing to grow in English. For Native Spanish speakers, your child will be able to develop English as a second language while enriching their mother tongue, Spanish. All children will learn appropriate academic skills while developing their bilingual proficiency. Moreover, your child will be able to develop social skills that allow him/her to make friends in a multicultural and multilingual world.
No. Studies have shown that children in Dual Language programs, as a group, perform the same or better than their monolingual English speaking peers in Achievement Tests in Math, Reading and Writing. Current results of Terra Nova tests of Dual Language students in School District 54 show the same outcome.
Although children are taught to read and write first in their respective native languages, both English and Spanish literacy is taught through reading and writing workshops, beginning in Kindergarten. Usually, by third grade, many children read and write comfortably in their native language and are developing literacy skills in the second language.