Breaking News
More () »

Conn. school districts boost bilingual education with rise in Hispanic and Latino populations

The program was introduced last year in two kindergarten classes and two first-grade classes. Parents apply to have their students enrolled in the class.

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — With some cities and towns in Connecticut seeing a rise in Hispanic and Latino populations, school districts are introducing programs designed to share language and culture.

“Bilingual is a superpower,” said Joelyz Lugo Vega, a New Britain kindergarten teacher who leads one of the classrooms participating in the district’s dual language program, "Dos en Uno."

The goal is to get students fluent in Spanish and English.

“I have 20 students. I have some of them are Spanish-speakers only, then I have other students that are English-speakers only and then I have students that are bilingual,” said Lugo Vega. 

The program was introduced last year in two kindergarten classes and two first-grade classes at DiLoreto Middle and Elementary School. Parents apply to have their students enrolled in the class.

“I don’t speak English at all. There’s times if I see they don’t understand what I’m saying, I do like a magic trick, ‘Now I’m going to speak English’ because I want them to take in the Spanish so they can acquire that language and then they help each other,” said Lugo Vega.

Sign up for the FOX61 newsletters: Morning Forecast, Morning Headlines, Evening Headlines

Proof the program works comes at the end of the year when progress is noted with the English speakers.

“They understand me, all the routines and everything perfectly fine, and that was like wow,” said Lugo Vega.

The English learners also benefit.

“If they have a strong base in their own language, that helps them to transfer the knowledge in two languages,” said Lugo Vega.

Hartford Public Schools is also bridging the barriers.

“We noticed that the gaps were widest for our multilingual learners, specifically our Hispanic students,” said Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, Superintendent of Hartford Public Schools. “For us, in the district, 57 percent of our students identify as Latino or Hispanic, and it is a large population in the city.”

The district’s programs, "Paso a Paso" and "Caribbean Connection," bring teachers from Puerto Rico and various islands to teach in schools.

“It is making sure they have mentorships. It is making sure we provide them with additional opportunities for certifications if needed. When they get here, they are part of a network,” said Dr. Torres-Rodriguez.

Education leaders said the programs help prepare students for life beyond school.

“Schools must be a reflection of the societies in which our students are going to transition to,” said Dr. Torres-Rodriguez.

Angelo Bavaro is an anchor and reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at abavaro@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook and X.

Have a story idea or something on your mind you want to share? We want to hear from you! Email us at newstips@fox61.com 


Download the FOX61 News APP 

iTunes: Click here to download 

Google Play: Click here to download 

Stream Live on ROKU: Add the channel from the ROKU store or by searching FOX61. 

Steam Live on FIRE TV: Search ‘FOX61’ and click ‘Get’ to download. 


Before You Leave, Check This Out