Illinois now providing bilingual instruction to all preschoolers

Illinois this year becomes the first state to provide bilingual education to all preschoolers who don’t speak fluent English. Here’s a fascinating ground-level look inside one of the state’s classrooms by the Chicago Tribune.

“With his navy slacks and dress shirt still creased from his mother’s iron, 4-year-old Edenzoe Diaz reported for his first day of preschool to learn his letters in English and Spanish.

He got his first lesson as he stepped into the classroom. Teacher Tania Miranda asked her newest student to copy the letters of his name onto an attendance sheet.

“Primero, esta letra,” Miranda said, pointing to the “E” on his nametag.

Edenzoe speaks no English, his mother said. But in this bilingual classroom at Chicago’s Edwards Center for Young Learners — a public school in the shadow of Midway Airport — he will receive the same support that for years has been offered starting in kindergarten.

As the school year begins, Illinois becomes the first state to mandate that public schools with preschool programs offer a bilingual education to 3- and 4-year-olds who don’t speak English.

Under the new regulations, school officials must determine whether students speak another language at home and measure how well they speak and understand English. They then must offer those who need it a seat in a bilingual preschool class, where they study basic academic skills in their native language as they learn English.”

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