comment 0

introducing author Olga Díaz, and FonoCultura

IMG_0461.JPGAt add.a.lingua we spend a lot of time with our partner schools. Recently, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to stop by NorthPointe Christian School in Grand Rapids, Michigan with one purpose (which, I’ll get to in a moment). But, before exploring it, it’s important for me to first mention how I was initially impacted by what I saw, heard, and felt upon entry to the school. From my first step into the building, I could tell: “immersion lives here”. (Those of you who know immersion programs know that this first impression isn’t always the case!)

The way the school has ensured that there is signage in both the immersion language and English to reflect both program strands in the building was intentional, purposeful, and effective. The way that the immersion students (including the preschoolers!) used Spanish beyond the classroom was evidence of the add.a.lingua Immersion Language Only Timeline & Policy in action. The student work in the immersion language displayed in the hallway articulated unity. I could go on for days about the shining stars I saw in my short time there.

immersion inspires an author

I walked with Maestra Olga Díaz, author, reading specialist, and former point person for the program, to her small classroom where she introduces children to the wonders of reading on a daily basis. As we talked, she shared that she is inspired by her students. And she’s inspired by the Spanish immersion program that she’s seen grow at NorthPoint
over time.  Early on, Olga saw two needs as she worked with young beginning readers:

  1. They needed certain access to a wider variety of authentic texts in the Spanish language that met their budding reading levels.
  2. They needed to ensure appropriateness of the themes in the text to foster a bond with the culture of the language that they were learning.


Instead of merely admiring these problems, she tackled them head-on. Olga developed the FonoCultura series for the students that served these two needs. She asked her husband to generate illustrations. Her daughter read the books aloud to put them in audio recordings. Her daughter read the books aloud to put them in audio recordings. And the content of theFonoCultura TW.png stories? Yes! They’re stories from Olga’s life growing up in Colombia!

The books she’s created align with add.a.lingua’s frameworks, and classroom teachers are using them throughout her building. Parents are even talking about these books as being an obsession for their kids. (We’ll share with you what parents and students are saying about the books in an upcoming blog post!)

While these books align with the add.a.lingua frameworks for our partner schools, they’re available for anyone who is working with beginning readers in the Spanish language. Check them out by becoming a member of our immersion educator community at my.addlingua.com/educator, and be sure to listen to the interview with Olga. We’re certain you’ll be just as excited about FonoCultura as we are.

Filed under: advocacy, educators, Spanish Immersion

About the Author

Posted by

Stephanie Irizarry holds undergraduate ​teacher certification in Spanish and Elementary Education, an M.Ed in Literacy Studies with emphasis in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL),​ and is near completion of an additional M.Ed. in Interdisciplinary Studies with Certification in Dual Language and Immersion Education. Her broad teaching experiences in dual language immersion programs and​ in​ English learner contexts provide her with deep insight into the needs of new and existing dual language immersion programs.​ Co-author of the publication Lending Student Voice to Latino ELL Migrant Children's Perspectives on Learning (2013), she knows that students increasingly take ownership of their education when their voices are honored and expectations are held high. Stephanie is the proud mom of two boys and is thrilled that they'll know the joy of learning in high quality dual language immersion environments as they grow. She enjoys spending time with her husband and children, travel, latin dancing, and reading in Spanish.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s