At 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:
- They needed certain access to a wider variety of authentic texts in the Spanish language that met their budding reading levels.
- 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 the 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.