Great State: Immersion School

Great State
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NORMAN, OKLAHOMA — Learning numbers and letters. Kids from all over the world get that in kindergarten and first grade. At a new school in Norman two unique classes in these grades are learning those lessons in the French language. “It’s perfect timing,” says 1st grade teacher Claire Allison.

Mme. Allison was an exchange student from central French when she heard about an opening at what would become central Oklahoma’s very first language immersion school. “They’re just catching on really quickly,” she says of her new students.

For a full half of each day teachers in these classes speak only French. The program took a couple of years to put together. World language coordinator Janet Gorton explains. “We had a meeting with the College of Education at OU and they have a partnership with a teaching program in France.”

New classes, new classrooms. For political conservatives French immersion at a school named for Ronald Reagan might sound a little funny, but not to Norman Supt. Joe Siano. He points out that the whole school was designed with an international feel. “It has a very global type of approach, and I think the diversification of the student body reflects that.”

Up in the 5th grade teachers at Reagan Elementary teach the 3 R’s in English. But each year another language immersion class will come on line. By the time those 6 year olds reach age 10 their French ought to be ‘tre bien’.

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