Portuguese Minister of Education visits Hudson dual language program

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Portuguese Education Minister João Costa is greeted by a crowd of flag-waving Hudson students during a visit to Farley Elementary School on Friday. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

HUDSON – Hudson students waved Portuguese flags on Friday morning as Portuguese Education Minister João Costa paid a special visit to local schools. 

He and his team joined district staff in highlighting Hudson’s new dual language Portuguese program at Farley Elementary School before visiting Hudson High School (HHS). 

“The fact that this is a strong Portuguese community here is not only a gain for the children in terms of this multilingualism, but also in the preservation of the heritage of their grandparents and parents,” Costa told the Community Advocate. “It’s very important.”

Dual language program concludes first year

Delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hudson launched its dual language program last fall after an extended planning process. 

The program starts in kindergarten and offers a format for students to spend 50% of their educational time learning in English, spending the rest of their time learning in Portuguese.  

The program will now follow students through their remaining years, with new grade levels being added as students progress. 

This first year, there are 40 students enrolled in the program across two classrooms. 

Speaking on Friday, Hudson Public Schools Superintendent Marco Rodrigues explained that the district will now be hiring two new teachers to work with those students in the fall when they enter first grade. 

Another set of 40 students will enter at the kindergarten level. 

“The interest is growing, which I think is phenomenal,” Rodrigues said.

Hudson to hold lottery for fall program

Already, there were 50 applications for incoming dual language students as of Friday, triggering a lottery process for next year’s classes, according to Rodrigues.

Rodrigues celebrated the success of the program and its teachers, adding that the program will remain cost neutral in the district’s budget. 

Classes, meanwhile, have navigated what Rodrigues initially flagged as a hurdle in launching a Portuguese dual language program. 

In prior conversations with the Community Advocate, Rodrigues noted that there were existing curricula for programs teaching in other languages. 

However, materials were sparse for Portuguese programs.

Roughly a year into classes, Rodrigues said the district has now partnered with a company producing Spanish language curricula, translating products into Portuguese through an additional partnership with Hudson High School students.

“It’s been phenomenal how we’ve been able to do this,” he said. “And we’re going to be able to continue to grow.”

Hudson program a model for other districts, Minister says

Portuguese Education Minister João Costa listens to student questions. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

Speaking on Friday, Costa similarly praised Hudson’s work.

“Multilingualism is an asset,” he said. “And it’s very good for children to learn more than one language.”

He acknowledged parent concerns about dual language programs before touting their efficacy.

“People think ‘If my child is going to learn two languages, they’ll be confused,’” he said. “Scientific evidence shows that it is good, even in cognitive terms, to learn more than one language.”

Costa then highlighted Hudson’s model as one to be replicated elsewhere.

“This is really an example that can be observed from other places,” he said.

Continuing forward, Rodrigues said the district may consider expanding Hudson’s dual language program to accommodate its still soaring demand at some point in the future.

With success in younger grades, Rodrigues also recently noted data about 2022 HHS graduates recognized through the Seal of Biliteracy program.

The seal was presented to 30 of this year’s 150 graduating students “who have studied and attained proficiency in two or more languages by high school graduation,” as described on the Seal of Biliteracy website.

Six students earned the Seal of Biliteracy with Distinction while five earned the separate Language Opportunity Coalition Achievement Award.

“It’s an impressive number,” Rodrigues said of this student performance.

Hudson students, teachers and district administrators pose with Portuguese Education Minister João Costa and his team during a visit to Farley Elementary School on Friday. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

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