Norlina students learn second language before first grade
Posted July 30, 2013
Norlina, N.C. — Some kindergarten students in Warren County are getting a head start learning a foreign language.
Northside Elementary School near Norlina went through Chapel Hill-based VIF International Education to hire Velvet Gamero from Colombia to teach Spanish to kindergartners.
"When you are very young, it's easy for you to get a second language," Gamero said.
Seventeen school districts across North Carolina have similar language immersion programs in Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, but they are usually larger districts, such as Wake County and Cumberland County.
"It's amazing just to see those students pick up that language and see them active (and) engaged," Northside Elementary Principal Shelia Washington said.
So far, the students have spent only one week in the classroom. They learn what other kindergartners are taught, only their instruction is in Spanish.
"The kids who are in this kind of program outdo the other kids who are of the same age," parent Cicelia Aguilar said.
Northside Elementary will have two Spanish teachers for at least three years, and school administrators hope to teach the current students in Spanish through the fifth grade.
"When you can speak two or three languages, many doors will be opened for you," Gamero said.