By Caitlin Schudalla
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — It’s not too late for Norman parents interested in enrolling their children in the school’s year-old French Immersion language program.
The final parent meeting will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Reagan Elementary, 1601 24th Ave. Applications for enrollment will be available at the meeting, and attendance is a requisite for enrollment.
Launched in August upon Reagan’s opening, the French Immersion program’s inaugural year has enjoyed great success, according to Norman Public Schools World Languages Coordinator Janet Gorton.
“I think the program has gone really well. The amount of French the students are able to use is strong and they seem excited about it, with lots of positive interaction with the instructors,” Gorton said. “The teachers incorporate French creatively with all interaction, talking about calendars, using hall commands, all in French.”
Based on current students’ successful meeting of content goals, Gorton said students who matriculate through the program to fifth-grade will have communicative proficiency and likely be able to converse in French.
“What I tell parents is that you have to think about this like you would a mono-lingual student,” Gorton said. “Students don’t leave fifth grade with everything they need because literary proficiency is developmental and requires practice and time. We’re currently working on middle school programs to help French Immersion graduates develop reading and writing in French and become increasingly more fluent.”
NPS parent Matt Ting said that as a result of his son’s participation in the French Immersion program, he has shown impressive command of the language and a well-developed understanding of math and science.
“We would have been thrilled with him counting to 25 in French, but within a couple months, he could count past 100,” Ting said. “We notice him counting by fives on his own, and it’s amazed me how you can tell he’s processing numbers and information in both languages. Learning as an adult, languages become just memorization, but for young kids, retaining and applying seems to be much easier.”
Another result Ting finds exciting is that, reflective of the immersion environment created by instructors at Reagan, his son will incorporate French into his play.
“We’ve caught him teaching his little sister how to ask for things or say certain phrases in French,” Ting said. “I think the program has really surpassed everyone’s expectations.”
Because the program can only allow 26 students, applicants who pass the application process are then entered into a lottery, with half the winning students coming from within the Reagan border and the other half from anywhere in the district.
For more information, visit norman.k12.ok.us. or call the district at 364-1339.
For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.