This fall, Maestras Saskia Rombouts Gorospe Rombouts and Liz Fyffe launched a dual language immersion program with 25 daring Kindergarteners. Half of these students speak some Spanish at home and half do not. Classroom instruction is primarily in Spanish, so students learn from each other, developing comfort and practical listening and speaking skills while building community.
Maestra Rombouts, who attended a dual language school herself, and was raised in Spain by a Flemish mother, is passionate about dual language for its ability to help students’ maintain their native language rather than see it replaced.
In an interview with the Erickson Institute, Saskia explained the field’s concerns with the common transitional bilingual rather than dual language approach, “it basically uses the student’s native language as a tool to help them learn English and then abandons it.” Her goal is to help our dual language learners to be truly bilingual.
Maestra Rombouts’ co-teacher, Liz Fyffe, comes to dual language through a different path. Maestra Fyffe, a native midwesterner, came to Chicago by way of Indiana, and studied Spanish in college. Maestra Fyffe was drawn to AGC’s by the desire to create a community of learners and is inspired by the growth, progress and independence of her Kinder dual language class.
One of Maestra Fyffe’s projects in her class this year has been developing a partnership with a youth organization in Peru. Maestra Fyffe met the organization’s founder, Liz Wilson, while in Costa Rica this summer at a gathering with some of AGC’s other global partners. AGC and students from SKIP (Supporting Kids in Peru) exchange videos in Spanish and English and share their cultural experiences. Maestra Fyffe and Liz Wilson hope that the students will soon become pen pals.
Maestras Rombouts and Fyffe are doing an incredible job with the dual language program. Give these incredible educators and their brave Kinders a round of applause!