Tulsa Public Schools is continuously creating opportunities for our students. One way of doing so is by providing our students instruction in multiple languages other than their native language.
"There are several studies that correlate dual language learning with higher academic achievement on standardized assessments. It enhances the knowledge of how language works, which has proven to be important for reading acquisition. It improves performance on tasks that call for divergent thinking, pattern recognition, and problem-solving,” said Liliane Vannoy.
Liliane Vannoy is the Director of Dual Language and Immersion for Tulsa Public Schools. She manages the district’s Language Culture and Services team.
Here at TPS, we provide dual-language programming to students at multiple school sites.
We provide a one-way language program in which all students enrolled speak the same native language and receive dual instruction in the same target language. We also offer a two-way dual language program in which students speak two different native languages and receive instructions in both target languages.
Tulsa Public Schools offers dual language and immersion programs at eight schools throughout the district.
Dual Language Academy and Celia Clinton Elementary offer a two-way language program comprising 50% dominant Spanish students and 50% dominant English students. Springdale, Sequoyah, Kendall-Whittier, and Skelly Elementary Schools offer students one-way dual language programs that are 100% Spanish dominant and learn in English and Spanish. At Zarrow International School, students in this immersion program are English dominant and are taught entirely in Spanish. And at Eisenhower International School, English dominant students are offered immersion programs in either Spanish or French.
These programs provide our students with significant advantages in learning and life.
“They become multilingual, multiliterate, and multicultural citizens. They develop the ability to communicate with other ethnic and cultural groups. They will have the ability to take advantage of opportunities that are available only in other languages. It will enhance their college and career opportunities. They are strong candidates to earn Tulsa Public Schools Seal of Biliteracy,” said Liliane.
One example of the one-way language program is at Skelly Elementary. The school offers this program to Spanish speaking students in all grades from pre-k through 6th. These programs are significant for the Skelly community as the school educates a high population of Spanish speaking students.
Students that enter the program between pre-k and 1st grade receive language arts, science, and social studies curriculum in Spanish and math in English. The model transitions in 2nd grade and continues to grow through the 6th grade. Once in 2nd grade students receive some language arts instruction in English. As students’ English skills progress, the learning of the curriculum transitions to 50/50.
“The goal is for our students to be biliterate upon leaving Skelly,” said Principal Jennifer Pense. “This program gives our Spanish speaking families a greater sense of belonging in our school. Our teachers can speak directly to them without having to have a translator.”
This program works at Skelly because of a team-teaching method. Each dual-language class has two teachers, one that teaches English subjects and the other teaching Spanish subjects. Skelly also has a language of the day in which students will work and write in that language.
“Tulsa has empowered this program, I say it’s Tulsa’s best-hidden secret,” said Stephanie Worley. “It’s a great program! The majority of our students only speak Spanish in their homes.”
Stephanie is in her 6th year teaching 1st grade dual-language at Skelly Elementary. She has seen tremendous growth in her students and feels immensely proud to be a part.
“It’s wonderful to see the students’ progress from the start of the year to the end. I love showing their journals to their parents. To be able to show the child has grown from writing one word to half pages, with proper grammar. It’s very rewarding,” said Stephanie.
Stephanie says they empower students to work in pairs as they learn so much from each other. She also encourages the students to write a lot as it helps them get a better understanding of the languages and themselves.
Another thing she is proud of is the level of engagement her students have with their families. She also is excited about the opportunities the district extends to those families.
“A lot of my first graders go to the store and help their families with English skills,” said Stephanie. “Some of my former parents come to Skelly and take an English class provided by the district.”
The Tulsa Public Schools communities enjoy the program, and there is fantastic growth happening within our students. The ability to learn the different curriculum in multiple languages helps students understand the content better and sets a foundation for success.