$600,000 Grant Boosts Language Learning in Indiana Schools | Indiana

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(The Center Square) – Students in 21 Indiana school districts will participate in immersive language learning this year with the help of nearly $600,000 in grants from the Indiana Department of Education .

Language immersion programs provide at least half of students’ instruction in a language other than English. To be eligible for a grant, the program must begin in kindergarten or first grade.

Immersive learning has grown from four school programs in 2014 to 42 programs this year. The growth required additional funding from new sources, according to INDOE.

Immersion learning develops listening, thinking and communication skills in both languages, according to Deputy Superintendent Allison Woods of Warren Township Schools in Marion County.

“It also allows native Spanish speakers to continue to develop language development in their native language,” Wood said, something that traditional English-only education lacks.

Warren Township schools have 260 immersion children learning from kindergarten through grade six. “We have the program in two buildings,” Woods told The Center Square. “Pleasant Run Elementary is where it all started. We started with a kindergarten cohort. Each year, it goes up, we add a school level.

The first cohort is now in sixth grade at Stonybrook Intermediate Middle School. Warren Township students learn half a day in English and the other half in Spanish.

“The Dual Language Immersion Grant is a traditionally publicly funded grant,” INDOE spokesperson Emily Black told The Center Square, “but with the increase in applications, it has temporarily supplemented this year with federal emergency relief funding for elementary and secondary schools.

Of the $595,000 awarded this year, about $417,000 came from public funds, with the rest from the federal ESSER fund, according to information provided by INDOE. Funds have been granted to 30 of the 42 schools hosting programs.

Woods said the $20,000 grant Warren Township received this year allowed them to continue to expand the program by purchasing additional Spanish-language curriculum in all subjects and training more teachers.

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