BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Students at a Bed-Stuy elementary school may soon be able to improve their language skills with the planned introduction of a new bilingual program in the district.
Brighter Choice Community School at 280 Hart St. is slated to receive a Spanish and English dual language program for kindergarten and first-grade students starting in the 2016-2017 academic year, according to the school and the city’s Department of Education.
Dual language programs consist of kids who are learning English and those who are proficient in English. Both groups receive instruction in English and another language, with the goal of helping them become bilingual and bicultural, according to the DOE.
Programs differ depending on the school. Some spend half a day or specific subjects in each language and others alternate languages day by day.
Further details on the format of Brighter Choice’s planned program were not available.
The school worked with families in planning the program, according to the DOE, but up until this year there weren’t enough students for a possible class.
With the proposed merger of Brighter Choice and Young Scholars' Academy for Discovery and Exploration, which already share a building, the school would be able to meet the number of kids needed to make a dual language program possible, the DOE said.
Currently, Bed-Stuy’s School District 16 is without a dual language program, according to DOE records, but offers other language enrichment resources and curriculum, including English as a New Language instructional programs, the agency said.
Brighter Choice already offers Spanish music and movement classes starting in pre-K, according to the DOE, along with a Culture Night organized by parents, teachers and students.
The agency also said it is committed to opening and expanding transitional and dual language programs in multiple languages in District 16 and across the city.
A report showed Spanish as the top language spoken at home for the district's English Language Learner students in 2013-2014, with a total of 148 kindergarten through fifth-grade kids.
“We’re very excited about it, we think it’ll help more services in our district and it’ll give us something else to compete with,” NeQuan McLean, president for the district’s Community Education Council, said about the dual language program.
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Barnabas Uba Shakur, whose three kids attend Brighter Choice, said the plan would help strengthen the school.
“I think not only will the program bring a second language for young people, it’ll also bring an openness to other cultures,” he said, adding that his daughter, who is currently in pre-K, would be able to benefit from it.
“It creates a stronger sense of diversity appreciation in our children.”
The DOE launched nearly 40 new dual language programs across the five boroughs last year, according to the agency.
“Chancellor Fariña created a standalone department dedicated to English language learners to ensure students receive an excellent and equitable education regardless of their native language,” said DOE spokeswoman Yuridia Peña.
“We have expanded our efforts to strengthen bilingual instruction, increase bilingual teacher recruitment efforts and provide ongoing teacher training opportunities."
Brighter Choice is scheduled to host an open house on the dual language program on Feb. 10 and Feb. 22 at 9 a.m., 280 Hart St. RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org