Malayah Strange flips the pages of her brand new book. She is a fifth grader at Central Elementary School in Banning, which has a language immersion programs that teaches students Spanish, English and Mandarin. Strange said she gets to practice Spanish with her mother and grandmother who are from Nicaragua.
“I feel like i learn more stuff like 2 times more than I was just learning English or Spanish,” Strange said.
Hugo Oliva Romero is deputy at the Mexican Consulate in San Bernardino. Along with his team, he donated books in Spanish that are accredited by the Mexican government. Those are the same books that elementary school children use in Mexico.
“It is very important that the students become bilingual because Spanish is one of the most important languages in the United States,” Oliva Romero said.
All 16 dual immersion classrooms now have a box of books that will help them learn Spanish as a second language.
“I’m excited to read them, study them,” Strange said.
Marcia Cole-Fijabi is the principal at Central Elementary School. The program runs from kindergarten to fifth grade. Students start off learning Spanish first and gradually learn more and more English as they get older.
“You don’t want to introduce English too early. We see English everywhere, you walk down the street you see English,” Cole-Fijabi said. “English is the native language in the US, so we want to make sure they are fully immersed in Spanish when they’re here in school.”
Many parents often fear that their children will get confused if they learn multiple languages at the same time, but Cole-Fijabi said that is not the case.
“When they’re young, they’re sponges,” Cole-Fijabi said. “It’s the best time to introduce them to all the languages you can.”
Bianca Corrales is in third grade, and she is already thinking about teaching Spanish to her own kids in the future.
“They are going to have to learn and practice with me because that will make them smarter,” Corrales said.