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Spanish immersion programs bring cultures together in classrooms

Teachers use two languages to teach everything from history to science.

SEATTLE — One way that cultures can come together is in the classroom, a place where kids spend half their day.

Seattle Amistad School is a small, private, non-profit school that teaches kids to be bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural by using two languages to teach everything from history to science.

Language is deeply rooted in every culture, so exposing children to multiple languages means exposing them to multiple cultures and traditions. By providing a wider of range of experience, children can expand their knowledge and understanding of where people come from in the melting pot of the United States.

“It’s not just teaching a language. You’re teaching your culture, your old roots, your traditions from different Latin America countries,” said Atenis Cortes-Torres who teaches 6th and 7th grade at Amistad.

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By giving these experiences of other cultures to children early on, the hope is that they will be better members of society and be more successful in navigating a global society.

Seattle Amistad School wants kids to learn that everyone has equal voices and to recognize and respect differences.

“So I think really with all these families coming from different parts of the country, they want to feel that their individual culture is respected and that their students, their children are learning how to be respectful,” said Cortes-Torres.

There are 71 schools in 35 districts with some kind of dual-language program in Washington state.

According to Seattle Public Schools, Hispanic students make up 12 percent of the student body and have for the past five years. District officials say the rise in dual language immersion programs comes from a community desire from families of all diversities.

RELATED: Washington superintendent pushes for more bilingual kindergarten programs