Oak Park Elementary encourages enrollment with Spanish Immersion program

Oak Park Elementary in Lake Charles (Source: Monica Grimaldo/KPLC)
Oak Park Elementary in Lake Charles (Source: Monica Grimaldo/KPLC)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The Spanish language may sound foreign to some students but for the students at Oak Park Elementary in Lake Charles, speaking Spanish during class is just another day.

"When we're out and about, my children will start speaking Spanish and people just turn and look and say, "Ooh, they know Spanish," said parent of three Oak Park Elementary students Lisa Moore.

Oak Park is the only elementary school in the city of Lake Charles to offer the Spanish Immersion program where students speak and learn Spanish through their everyday courses. With fall enrollment right around the corner, parents and teachers say teaching students to be bilingual at an early age will help students in the future.

"Science, Social Studies, Math and sometimes P.E. and Art are all taught in the target language which in this case, is Spanish," said Calcasieu Parish consultant for world languages and ESL Dr. Jennifer Zambrano.

All the Spanish classes, which include kindergarten classes through 5th grade, are taught by fluent, Spanish-speaking teachers that came to Southwest Louisiana from Spanish-speaking countries such as Peru and Spain.

"We started in kindergarten with children that never spoke to a non-English speaker at all," said Maria Otero, who taught the first Spanish Immersion class in 2012. "So, they couldn't understand my English and they couldn't understand my Spanish. And now, they are fluent and they don't need to use English for anything."

For Veronica Proaño of Peru, she says she loves watching her student's Spanish progress.

"That's the most beautiful part," said Proaño. "How students are beginning to actually speak Spanish."

Frasch Elementary in Sulphur is the 2nd school that offers the Spanish Immersion program in Calcasieu Parish.

There's also a French Immersion program that's offered in Prien Lake, Henry Heights in Lake Charles and Gillis Elementary in Moss Bluff.

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