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Old 03-21-2009, 10:19 AM
 
21 posts, read 59,726 times
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I am looking for input on the Dual language program in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school district.

It looks like originally the program was only at Carrboro elemetary (for spanish), but now the program exists at Scroggs, Graham and McDougle elementary schools as well. Glenwood has the Mandarin program.

We will probably not be able to move prior to the application deadline, so it may not matter, but I wanted to look into the programs anyway. My daughter will be starting kindergarden and would probably be considered a native Spanish speaker (she speaks English fluently also) - my wife is originally from Spain and speaks to her only in Spanish.

We are planning to write to and/or call the principals of the various schools for more information, but I wanted to check here and see if anyone had input so we can come up with the best questions for them. We would have to live within the school boundary so we would be looking for a home (probably rental first) in the appropriate area. All of the schools seem to be rated pretty highly.

Any general opinions on those schools?

Does anyone know if it is possible to get into the dual language programs starting in first grade or later (assuming we are too late this year) - or is it starting in kindergarden only? If we have no chance of getting her into the program it obviously gives or more flexibility in looking for a place to live if we are just looking anywhere in the Ch/C district.

Thanks in advance for any help!
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Old 03-21-2009, 09:46 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill
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Hello! I think you would have good luck working with the Principal at Scroggs. The entire staff there is willing to help each and every family. The neighborhood Southern Village is the n'hod that is districted there, and a great n'hood to live in!
Wishing you luck and Welcome!
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Old 03-22-2009, 10:35 AM
 
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Thank you - we have heard good things about the Southern Village neighborhood from the few friends we have who have lived in the area. I have been trying to watch for rentals there and it does look like affordable rentals come available, so hopefully we can find one when the times comes if we decide to move there.
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Old 03-23-2009, 08:05 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill
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Welcome to Chapel Hill! The new Morris Grove Elementary teaches Spanish as well. My two younger boys go there. I wouldn't have too high of an expectations. They start off really slowly and progress at a rather slow pace. The idea is to provide exposure to a second language. It won't get very intensive until middle school. If your wife is already speaking to her in Spanish your daughter is likely far more advanced than the other students.
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Old 03-23-2009, 09:53 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sant View Post
Welcome to Chapel Hill! The new Morris Grove Elementary teaches Spanish as well. My two younger boys go there. I wouldn't have too high of an expectations. They start off really slowly and progress at a rather slow pace. The idea is to provide exposure to a second language. It won't get very intensive until middle school. If your wife is already speaking to her in Spanish your daughter is likely far more advanced than the other students.
The OP is talking about the dual language programs in Chapel Hill, not what MG has. With dual language, the kids are fully immersed, with a native speaker, in a language (either Spanish or Mandarin) for 1/2 the time and in English the other half. The kids are 1/2 native English speakers, 1/2 native Spanish (or Mandarin) speakers. The kids read and speak and become bilingual and biliterate.

OP, after K it is very difficult for a native English speaker to get into the program. They will accept native Eng. speakers in 1st, but the kids who tried to get in for K will all be at the top of the waitlist, so anyone who comes to the area after that initial lottery is going to be out of luck (VERY few kids leave the program. Usually only when moving).

If your child speaks as a native Spanish speaker (but it would have to be like a native--not "pretty well") then you'd have a better shot b/c they will let native Spanish speakers into the program at any age when a spot opens IF they are also bilterate (not in K or 1, but by 2nd, they'd need to be functioning as a child would at that age in Spain). So that could be an option.

Your chance of getting into Carrboro as a native speaker is probably the lowest of the 3 schools b/c they have the highest number of native spanish speakers in the district, so their waitlist might well be full. Scroggs and McDougle have fewer in the district, so chances would probably be better.

Also, if you decide on Scroggs just a word of caution. It is very much a neighborhood school which can be wonderful if you live IN SV. If you decide to live outside SV and are discticted there, I have heard from a number of people they feel they don't really belong. It feels like it belongs all to SV, although of course it doesn't. If you're in SV though, I hear it's very nice to be able to walk there, get that neighborhood school feel, etc.

Good luck.
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Old 03-23-2009, 03:31 PM
 
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Thanks for the input - my daughter is fluent in both Spanish and English - but her Spanish is actually better. My wife only speaks to her in Spanish and I only speak to her in English - my wife stays home with our children, so my daughter speaks Spanish more more often than English. We have not specifically had her classified, but I think she will definitely be considered a native speaker, which will help some.

We have sent emails to the principals at the various schools, so hopefully we can get some information directly from them.
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Old 03-23-2009, 04:30 PM
 
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You're going to want to call the Lincoln Center. The ones who run the dual language programs are at the Lincoln Center, not the individual schools.
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Old 03-23-2009, 09:27 PM
 
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I'm very curious about the language programs in the Carrboro and Chapel Hill schools as well. My daughter will entering kindergarten at McDougle next fall. She's a native speaker of English and Russian (Russian is slipping, although we're trying to keep it up). I know that there are no Russian programs in the schools here, but at age five, she's already expressed a major interest in learning Spanish.

I've had discussions with linguists on language-learning, and theoretically, most small children should be able to pick up multiple languages relatively easily. Although I'm sure she would find it extremely challenging, obviously, for the first few weeks or months, I think our daughter would enjoy the dual language program.

Would someone like my daughter be eligible for it? Do they accept kids just being thrown into dual language programs like this without significant prior exposure to one of the two languages?

Or perhaps I'd be laughed at (at best) or accused of child abuse (at worst)?

If the dual-language program is not an option, does McDougle have any other programs
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Old 03-23-2009, 10:13 PM
 
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It's perfect timing for you actually. Go to the Lincoln Center (which is where you have to go to register her for kindergarten anyway). You can register her and sign up for the lottery at the same time, if the deadline has not passed. I signed my child up for it a few years back, but can't remember the deadline--sometime around now I think. They will pull the names and let you know in summer.

She needs no Spanish background and yes, the kids pick it up very quickly. They do make sure the class is 50/50 native English/Spanish speakers, so that helps a lot b/c there isn't a dominant language in the class and everyone gets the chance to feel very strong at one of the languages and help the others.

It's such an amazing opportunity so yes, go for it!!

Even if the deadline has passed, sign up for the waitlist. If it has passed, it's not by much and there's always that chance she'll get in if not in K, then perhaps in 1st grade.

It's a totally blind lottery, which is really nice. I knew someone who had their child take Mandarin for 2 years just to give him a better chance at getting into the program at Glenwood, only to find they don't look at the child's file at all except to find out what their native language is. Nothing else matters.

Do expect their English reading/writing skills to lag behind their peers for the first couple of years. This is normal--they are spending 1/2 the time of their peers on it and spending a lot of time on 2nd language acquisition. By the 3rd or 4th year, the same children usually surpass their peers in English reading/writing (as well of course as the 2nd language skills)
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Old 03-24-2009, 12:08 AM
 
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I think that the deadline is May 29th, so you still have time to sign up.

As far as the 3rd language goes, I have read that the language "sponge" ability that children have lasts until about 10 - so now is the time to expose them to more languages. We did actually let our daughter take a few French classes in addition to already speaking Spanish and English - for various reasons she did not really like it so we only did it for a couple of months, but she did pick up quite a bit of vocabulary in a relatively short amount of time.

I would definitely try to get her in.
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