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Unique bilingual program helps toddlers learn two languages

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - Hispanics represent the fastest growing segment of Oklahoma City's population.

There's increasing interest in making sure Spanish-speaking children catch on to English, even before they go to school.

A unique bilingual program is helping the youngest city residents manage two languages.

"Con mis ojos... veo la ciudad," teachers sing to toddlers in Spanish. They're saying, "with my eyes I see the city."

The bilingual education class at the Tony Reyes Bilingual Child Development Center in South Oklahoma City.

"We just go back and forth, like we can say, wash wash, wash my hands and in one second we say in Spanish, me lavo las manitas," Carmen Ponse, a ten-year veteran teacher says.

Everyday, they use the languages interchangeably to help bring proficiency levels up.

"We want to make sure that they have the English language and if we have a family who does not speak Spanish in the home, they usually leave here learning Spanish and speaking Spanish," Nina Gonzalez, the center director says.

"For us, it's very important that they speak both languages that way it's better for them when they grow up," Ponse said.

These days, many jobs require bilingualism. Studies show children who speak two languages learn faster than those who only know one.

These children are even teaching their parents who may not be fluent English speakers.

"This way we've gotten them early, we've taught both parents and children at the same time and they go forward with their tools and become very successful citizens of Oklahoma," Gonzalez says.

The director says the program is not only for Latino children, it's for any parent who wants their child to learn Spanish.

They're also looking to add additional languages like Vietnamese.

For more information visit the website here.