New dual language program starting in 2 Hillsborough elementary schools

Two elementary schools in Hillsborough County are starting a language immersion program.

Teachers are back in class already preparing for the new year and in some cases, new programs.

Two elementary schools in Hillsborough County are starting a language immersion program.

On Thursday, 36 kindergartners will show up at Bellamy Elementary and suddenly be immersed into a world many of them don't understand.

Two teachers, two classrooms, two languages with one big lesson.

"We're going to have Spanish and English dominant students in each of the classrooms all day long," English teacher Stephanie Kraft said.

After 15 years of teaching in English, Ruth Jones will teach the same students in Spanish.

"Simple things like 'Now let’s line up for lunch,'  and then I have to think with my bilingual brain, 'how do you say line?'" Jones said.

It's called 50/50 immersion and the students that start this program will stay in it together through fifth grade.

"Our goal is for these students to become bilingual, biliterate students where they'll be able to read speak and write in Spanish and English," Jones said.

"That's a really important piece. A lot of people will learn two languages, but they don't know how to communicate in other ways other than verbally," Kraft said.

Kraft doesn't speak Spanish at all, so she'll be learning right along with the kids. 

Crestwood Elementary is also starting this program this year.  Alexander Elementary has been doing a similar version of this for about 12 years.

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