INside Story

Demand for dual-language education increases in Lawrence Township Schools

The number of students learning the English language in Indiana is growing and schools are feeling the impact.

This week, News 8’s Camila Fernandez is taking a deep dive into dual-language education and how some schools in Indianapolis are meeting their students’ cultural and linguistic needs.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — As the number of students learning English increases, teachers are taking new measures to give these students the education they deserve.

Across Indiana, there are nearly 78,000 students called English learners who receive lessons in both English and Spanish. The number of English learners in Indiana schools has increased by almost 27,000 from six years ago.

One school district seeing a surge in English learners is the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township in northeast Marion County.

There are approximately 16,250 students in Lawrence Township schools and most of them are Black or Hispanic. About 20% of students in the district are English learners.

At one Lawrence Township school, a Latina teacher who was once a student there has returned years later and is making a positive impact.

Dual-language education teacher Nancy Oseguera is passionate about many things, but she has a special love for her second grade students at Mary Castle Elementary School.

Oseguera teaches them how to read and write in both English and Spanish.

“I love it because I actually feel a strong connection with my students, because I, myself, was in this program,” Oseguera said.

Years ago, Oseguera was a first-grade student learning English at Mary Castle. Back then, she says, there was no dual-language education until middle school.

“I just wish, when I came here, I would have been able to hear a little bit of Spanish here,” Oseguera said. “For example, when it’s English time, I know it’s all English, but like the ones that don’t speak English, I just try to say things slower.”

Carl Blythe, principal of Mary Castle Elementary School, says the school would like to offer more classes in a dual-language setting, but more funding is needed.

“There’s still more work to be done,” Blythe said. “We would love to have interventionists that support learning. We’d love to be able to grow our staff and professional development with bilingual or even native-speaking interventions.”

Desire for dual-language learning is also growing at nearby Forest Glen Elementary School, where more than half of the students are Hispanic. Dual-language lessons at Forest Glen focus on science, technology, engineering, and math.

Year after year, demand for dual-language education options is growing, says Forest Glen principal Jerome Omar Lahlou.

“We have all these community members and parents that would like for their kids to be part of Forest Glen school community, and then the district listened to that demand, and they opened another school that mixed with this one,” Lahlou said.

Mary Castle and Forest Glen are just two schools offering bilingual education programs in Indianapolis, but no matter the location, these schools share one thing in common: The celebration of their students’ diverse cultures.

Part 2