Spanish Language Learning Program

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The Spanish Language Learning Program is an academically challenging and enriching program for developing linguistic proficiency in Spanish and English. Students enter the program in kindergarten and continue through fifth grade at Harney Elementary School. Spanish Language instruction continues with a focus on literacy at McLoughlin Middle School and rigorous classes for freshmen through seniors in the Spanish language pathway at the Fort Vancouver High School Center for International Studies.

Students throughout Vancouver Public Schools may apply.

At the elementary level, students are immersed in the target language. At the kindergarten and first-grade levels, approximately 90 percent of instruction will be in Spanish and 10 percent will be in English to facilitate early Spanish language acquisition and literacy development.

As students transition to higher grades at the elementary level, more of the instruction shifts to English, so that in the upper grades there will be 50/50 Spanish/English instruction. At the middle school level, students receive two periods of instruction in Spanish.

At the high school level, students receive one period of Spanish instruction.

  • Be successful in all academic subjects
  • Achieve true bilingualism and biliteracy of participating students
  • Acquire the knowledge skills and dispositions to be competent global citizens

To ensure achievement and success for students in the Spanish Language Learning Program, it is necessary for families to make a long-term commitment to the program. Active parent support is extremely important to the long-term success of the program.

  • Bilingual students generally demonstrate academic gains. Research shows that students in language learning programs typically develop strong academic skills in addition to becoming proficient in both languages.
  • Students have the opportunity to achieve true bilingualism and biliteracy in Spanish and English. Students learn languages more easily at an early age. Immersing and instructing students in a second language provides an effective vehicle for students to learn to speak read, and write in both languages by fifth grade.
  • Students develop cultural literacy as well as enhanced cognitive skills. Language Learning program students benefit from the ability to communicate with people from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. They also typically experience academic achievement at or above their single-language peers. Research covering more than 40 years of language instruction shows that students receive a variety of cognitive benefits such as mental flexibility, nonverbal problem-solving abilities and enhanced critical thinking skills.

Interested families are required to attend one of the Parent Information Meetings offered at the school prior to submitting an application for the program. Families must complete and submit an application for their child. Applications for kindergarten will be available at Harney Elementary and online. Applications must be submitted to Harney Elementary by the deadline to be entered into the lottery. (If there are more applicants than spaces in the program, students will be selected through a lottery process.)

Students residing within the school boundaries of Harney Elementary will be placed in the first lottery drawing. The second drawing will be for students outside of the school boundary, but within the Vancouver Public Schools’ boundaries. The third drawing will be for students outside of Vancouver Public Schools (per district regulations). All applicants will be notified of the lottery outcome.

Parents of students outside of school boundaries who are selected for this program will be required to provide their own transportation to and from school.

Once students are admitted to the program, they will have continued placement in the program each year without having to reapply. Annual renewal of boundary exceptions for students living outside Harney boundries is required.

Siblings of students admitted to the program are not guaranteed placement in the program, nor are they given preference on a waiting list based on their sibling’s admission to the program. Parents may apply for a boundary exception for a sibling to attend Harney Elementary. Regular boundary exception policies apply (Regulation 5115, sections II–V).


Lucy Estrada-Guzman, principalHarney Elementary School
3212 E. Evergreen Blvd., Vancouver, WA 98661
Travis Boeh, principalMcLoughlin Middle School
5802 MacArthur Blvd., Vancouver, WA 98661
Jody ViDelco, principalFort Vancouver High School
5700 E. 18 St., Vancouver, WA 98661
Allison Darke Resource coordinator

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