New mexico schools to teach dual languages through video

Tony Parra

By Tony Parra
PNT Staff Writer
The state of New Mexico Educational System has taught children English, now it will have an opportunity to teach them Spanish.
Dr. Julia Rosa Lopez-Emslie, bilingual/multicultural education program director at Eastern New Mexico University presented, “Planting Seeds of Success Through Language,” a 30-minute instructional video on learning English and Spanish at the Dolores Gonzales Elementary in Albuquerque on Friday.
“It’s so encouraging to see students that don’t speak English or Spanish learn the languages at a third grade level,” Lopez-Emslie said. “The children speak both of the languages, beautifully.”
The video shows the Two-Way Dual Language Immersion Program being taught in the Dolores Gonzales Elementary School. Two-Way Dual Language Immersion programs are defined broadly as a model in which students learn in two languages, which in this case is English and Spanish.
“Julia came to me with the idea,” Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega, executive producer and director of the video said. “She was responsible for the research and she helped me learn about the program. We don’t have this type of program in the educational system. We need it in our public schools.”
The program must accomplish three tasks: separate the languages for instruction, teach 50 to 90 percent of instructional time in the target language and implement the program from at least Kindergarten through fifth grade and teaching the program from grades 5-12 is optional.
Lopez-Emslie, Dr. Rebecca Blum Martinez of the University of New Mexico and Dr. Maria Luisa Gonzalez of New Mexico State University worked on the project along with Ortega. Ortega is the director of operations for KENW at Eastern New Mexico University and had a variety of tasks in creating the video.
Ortega, who was the director and producer of the video, also wrote the script for the video and Lopez-Emslie was the executive producer.
“We focused on three different groups of people,” Ortega said. “One is the group in which English is the first language, the second is composed of a group in which Spanish is the first language and the last group is the one with a Hispanic heritage. This group is the one that the parents are of Hispanic origin but their children do not speak Spanish.”
The instructional video was made possible thanks to a $249,900 Foreign Language Assistance Program grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The project was funded from 1999 to 2003 through the office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs of the U.S. Department of Education.
Lopez-Emslie, who has been an instructor at ENMU for 22 years, was awarded a certificate for outstanding leadership and support to the bilingual multi-cultural education programs in the New Mexico school districts and higher institutions by the New Mexico Department of Education. She plans to retire in July and move to Santa Fe.
“I was very surprised (to receive the award),” Lopez-Emslie said. “The students that are in the program graduate at a higher rate than any other high school student. They are bilingual, write in both languages and they are sensitive to the cultures. The pluses of learning both languages are incredible.”