Spanish Language Immersion Program

  • Introduction

    In the Spanish Immersion Program in Union County Public Schools, students learn to speak, listen, read and write in Spanish. Students learn math, social studies and science in Spanish. They study art, music and PE in English. They also receive formal, daily instruction in English language arts in English from grade 2 through grade 5. Late entry to the program past kindergarten is rare unless the students has an academic foundation in speaking, reading and writing Spanish.  

    Teachers are native-speakers from multiple Spanish-speaking countries.

    Students and teachers participate with their grade level counterparts in recess, assemblies, and other school-wide events.

    District personnel and Participate© provide continuous support to the district and school administration to ensure the program is of the highest quality. District personnel and Participate© provide consultation and support in all areas including program model alignment, instructional delivery, teacher support and staffing. 

    The Spanish (One-Way) Immersion Program in Union County Schools began in the 2102-2013 school year with one class in Kindergarten at two schools. Each year, students moved up a grade while teachers and students started a new cohort in kindergarten.  There are seven elementary schools with a Spanish (One-Way) Immersion Program instructional model: Antioch, Poplin, Shiloh, Sun Valley, Unionville, Weddington and Western Union.

    The Spanish (Two-Way) Immersion Program in UCPS began in the 2017-2018 school year at East Elementary and Walter Bickett Elementary. Marshville Elementary started a kindergarten cohort in the 2018-2019 school year, and Porter Ridge and Wingate Elementary started their programs in 2019-2020. 

    Spanish Immersion Program 

    The Spanish Immersion Program was designed to offer students the opportunity to develop literacy in two languages, English and Spanish. The program offers students a structured environment in which they will develop oral fluency, listening, reading and writing skills across all elementary academic areas.

    Program Model

    There are many models in dual language immersion programs. While some programs begin by offering instruction with equal distribution of time in both languages, commonly known as the 50/50 model, others start with a full immersion model one-way model where 80 or up to 90 percent of time spent instructionally is in the target language. Introduction of English Language Arts may begin as early as kindergarten or can also be delayed to second grade. Most Spanish Immersion programs move to an equally distributed language allocation model (50/50) by upper elementary. The characteristics of the program implemented will impact the results.

    The Spanish One-Way Immersion model in Union County Public Schools incorporates elements considered best practices in the field. Receptive language will precede productive language even when speaking and writing are fostered from the initial stages. Students learn to read in Spanish from kindergarten on. English Language Arts are part of formal instruction from grade 2 through grade 5 with incremental exposure determined by the district and school.

    The Spanish Two-Way Immersion model in Union County Public Schools provides an opportunity for native Spanish speakers and native English speakers to learn their native language and the partner language. Students receive language arts instruction in Spanish and in English in grades K-5, while other content areas are taught in either English or Spanish. Several UCPS two-way immersion schools begin kindergarten as full immersion and move to a more balanced Spanish/English model in either 1st or 2nd grade, depending on the school. 

    The curriculum follows the units of study for Union County Public Schools for language arts, math, science and social studies that are based upon the North Carolina Standard Course of Study. Teachers and students rely on resources from Participate© and other published and teacher-made Spanish language resources.

    Literacy assessments established by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction are administered as mandated from kindergarten through grade 3. Spanish Immersion students take all state-mandated English language end-of-grade exams for reading and math in grades 3 - 5 and science in grade 5.  Participate© provides programmatic assessments to measure second language development. Fifth grade students take the ACTFL Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency in Languages (AAPPL) that assesses: Interpersonal Listening/Speaking, Presentational Writing and Interpretive Reading and Listening.   

    Expected Outcomes per North Carolina Department of Public Instruction 

    The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has set exit proficiency guidelines for dual language / immersion alphabetic languages (page 5).