DeSoto ISD Bilingual Program Benefits Students

gomez dual language immersion
Hermelinda Williams, third grade bilingual classroom teacher at Moates Elementary. Photo by DeSoto ISD

Accelerating Learning In the Classroom

DESOTO – In an effort to ensure a rigorous and equitable education for all students, the district adopted the nationally renowned Gomez and Gomez Dual Language Immersion framework earlier this year to support its bilingual curriculum and are already seeing some benefits.

“Students are excited and motivated every day because they get to learn in their native language and in the language that they are trying to acquire.” said Hermelinda Williams, a third-grade bilingual teacher at DeSoto ISD ‘s Frank A. Moates Elementary School.

“The Gomez and Gomez framework embraces best practices that are authentic, challenging, interactive and designed to accelerate learning in the classroom. The students are accountable for their own learning and the teacher is more of the facilitator,” she said.

Ms. Williams, who is in her eighth year of teaching bilingual classes at the Moates campus and a native Spanish speaker, sees how the learning framework structures student’s growth and helps to develop a mastery of both languages and the instructional concepts.

“In the past, we really did not have guidelines, but were asked to teach 50/50, English and Spanish. Now, we do have guidelines and a manual which makes it easier.”

The Gomez and Gomez model focuses on bilingual and biliteracy. In practice, it utilizes the language of the day model which alternates the communication and teacher facilitation between English and Spanish in the classroom. The program allows students to learn in bilingual pairs or cooperative groups, and even offers some self-paced learning options in both languages and across all subjects.

Students Enjoy Learning Two Languages

Ms. Williams appreciates the opportunity to teach in both languages and sees that it helps students make real-time connections faster. “I have seen growth especially in their speaking because when working an activity, they have to communicate and come to an agreement to complete the tasks.”

A visit to Williams’ social studies classroom showed a highly print-rich classroom integrated with instructional technology. The students were engaged in their bilingual research center assignments. A small group were also completing a paired group assignment.

Frank Moates Elementary third grade student in Williams’ class, Gregory Duran, who was also chosen to wear the red necklace to remind the class that the language of the day was Spanish, was excited to share his experience.

Soto ISD Student
Photo provided by DeSoto ISD

“It really makes me excited because I get to learn more words and study new things. This is the BEST class ever!” said Duran.

Duran’s classmate, Elena Barton, agreed shared the overall value of learning two languages.

“I like that I am bilingual now. Before I did not know any English and now, I can speak English and help others learn,” she said.

Frank A. Moates Elementary Principal Alexandra Barton is extremely excited about the incorporation of the Gomez and Gomez Learning model in DeSoto ISD and on her campus.

“The bilingual program presents an opportunity for Spanish-speaking students to learn in their native language. By establishing the solid foundation of academics in their native language, they are easily able to transfer their learning to the English language later,” said Barton. “We want to provide this opportunity through the Gomez and Gomez one-way dual language program so that students truly become bi-literal when they exit the program in fifth grade.”

Gomez and Gomez Dual Language Immersion Framework Offers Academic and Cultural Benefits

DeSoto ISD Chief Academic Officer Celeste Barretto shared that this approach to learning is very beneficial to the students’ overall development academically and culturally.

“The goal of dual language education is bilingualism and biliteracy. We want to make sure that every single one of our students whose language is not English, knows that their native language that is associated with their culture is as valuable as any other language. To do that well, it is important to identify and execute upon world class dual-language instruction.”

Barretto also explained that the district chose the Gomez and Gomez framework because it is grounded in research. There are years of data proving its effectiveness. It prioritizes things that are most important to instruction: reading and writing across the curriculum and strong instruction in the student’s native language.

The Gomez and Gomez Dual Language Immersion framework is an academic and linguistic model. The model helps students learn two languages equally well and create a GT-styled learning environment for all students. In its first year of implementation at DeSoto ISD, the framework is in use in all Pre-K to fifth grade bilingual classrooms at Amber Terrace, Frank A. Moates and Cockrell Hill Elementary campuses.

Co-creator Dr. Richard Gomez returns to the district regularly to assess the success of instruction, provide additional training and measure student learning.