Hudson schools roll out dual language kindergarten program


By Justin Roshak, Contributing Writer

Hudson schools roll out dual language kindergarten program
Hudson’s Deal Language program is located at Farley Elementary School. (Photo/ courtesy Hudson Public Schools)

HUDSON – Hudson Public Schools kindergarten students are learning Portuguese and English alongside each other in the first year of the district’s Dual Language Program. 

Delayed by COVID-19, the program has currently enrolled 32 students in two classes at Farley Elementary School. 

Students learn for half a day in English before transitioning to spend the other half learning in Portuguese. Schedules within that format vary on a weekly basis. 

The Hudson Public Schools plans to add one grade level per year to the dual-language program in the coming years as students progress in the system. Eventually, all grades will have the option to participate. 

The dual-language program was developed in response to documented gaps in achievement between native speakers of English and Portuguese. The decision to specifically focus on Portuguese was made early on in this planning process due to Hudson’s strong Portuguese community. 

Initially meant to be rolled out last fall, the program launch was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Now up and running, though, the program leadership group has already begun work on materials for the first grade. 

“We should be ready to go for next year,” said Director of English Learner Education Wendy Anderson at an Oct. 26 School Committee meeting. 

A Parent Advisory Council, which meets four times a year, and a Dual Language Advisory Council oversee the program. The latter group includes classroom educators, administrators, and curriculum specialists. 

A curriculum was built using reading materials from the American Reading Company. That process of gathering materials had posed a challenge as most dual-language programs nationally focus on Spanish, not Portuguese, Superintendent Marco Rodrigues told the Community Advocate in 2020. The district worked with the American Reading Company and received their consent to translate reading curriculum. 

A team of high school students, all with a high proficiency in both English and Portuguese, organized a Translation Club to help with that translation process. They began work online during 2020, when students were still learning in substantially remote formats due to the coronavirus. Parent volunteers also participated in the translation work. 

As a result, district educators now have a stable of books which they can use for dual-language instruction. The books are available online and in physical, in-classroom forms. 

Students will receive reading assessments in both languages. 

The Dual Language Program will also weave into existing Hudson Public Schools initiatives such as a food drive and Project Lead the Way, which is the district’s engineering, math, and technology enrichment program. 

“I think it was awesome that you were able to coordinate among the students and staff,” said School Committee Member Steven Smith. “Everyone gets something out of it.”

Rodrigues predicted that the impact of the Dual Language Program would be felt for many years to come, especially as the number of students enrolled in it grows. 

“Over time we’re going to see the results of that,” Rodrigues said.

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