TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Spanish is a language many here in Southern Arizona speak and being bilingual can be a big asset.
"I just fell in love with being able to see students fall in love with the language," said first grade teacher Andrea Gallegos-Morales.
That's what this first grade class at Roskruge Bilingual Magnet K-8 School is doing. "In a bilingual classroom, we predominately speak Spanish all day. It is a 90-minute block and we only plan for half-hour of English in our day," explained Gallegos-Morales.
Senora Gallegos-Morales, as her students call her, has been at Roskruge for eight years. She tells me her students are being exposed to the Spanish language fully.
"The way that we work is my students go to the other first grade teacher and his students come to me. So, my students never see me speak English," described Gallegos-Morales. "They only see me speak Spanish all day. So, they just feel more of a need to try and more of need to inclusively speak Spanish."
One of the main goals inside this classroom is to make sure students are comfortable receiving instruction in a second language. "There's lots of visuals and language strategies put into place for teaching students," said Gallegos-Morales.
She says most of the kids you see here are learning Spanish as a second language. "In my particular classroom I have six English language learners. So, their language is predominately Spanish, but the rest of the classroom their first language is English," shared Gallegos-Morales.
At first, some parents are worried about the fact that their child doesn't know Spanish. "But what they don't understand is that the skills transfer and since it's such a phonetic language, we see that students are really succeeding," revealed Gallegos-Morales.
And help with any homework is available. "I think the fun part of it is that we tell parents this is kind of a learning experience for them to learn with their child and I've had a good response from parents," said Gallegos-Morales.
That's one of the best parts. Senora Gallegos-Morales loves how her class is made up of students from different backgrounds. "We promote that you know being bicultural, bi-literate and bilingual is beautiful and so I think the kids really have fostered that in this school community," expressed Gallegos-Morales.
They may not realize it now, but she makes sure to tell her students that when you know a different language, the opportunities are endless. "If you could speak two languages, you know great, try for a third language, you know for the future." said Gallegos-Morales.
In the Tucson Unified School District, students can stay in the bilingual program all the way from kindergarten through high school.
Students then graduate with a seal of biliteracy that helps them obtain a bilingual endorsement when they get to college.
Lydia Camarillo is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9. Lydia is no stranger to the Old Pueblo. She has been reporting in Tucson for more than a decade and has been involved in numerous projects highlighting folks in the community. Share your story ideas and important issues with Lydia by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.