Monday, August 15, 2016

New Chamorro Immersion Program

Chamorro immersion program ensures Guam's language isn't lost
by Isa Baza

With fewer and fewer children speaking the Chamorro language every year, the Guam Department of Education is stepping up to create a Chamorro immersion program that may help keep our island's native tongue fresh in the minds of Guam youth.

"Right now based on a lot of the surveys we've done throughout the years, we don't have any speakers, we don't produce speakers, so our intention with this master plan is to produce speakers for our next generation, so when they're done with their schooling, they're able to survive using the Chamorro language," explained Division of Chamorro Studies acting administrator Rufina Mendiola. She said her department has developed a draft Chamorro immersion master plan, which aims to teach students exclusively in Chamorro.

"We need to have the science teacher speaking only in Chamorro, the math, the basic content that every child needs to learn in the classroom but it's going to be all immersed in the Chamorro language," she added.

The draft plan is a result of a survey of both parents and students conducted last school year. Mendiola said, "And based on the results, a lot of the questions had to do with - if we had an immersion master plan in place for the department of education, are you going to have your child attending - there are a lot of parents that are interested."

She said the program would address weaknesses with the current program, including a lack of sufficient instructional time.  "We're very limited right now, for example in elementary and teaching of the Chamorro mandate, we have twenty minutes a day for the K-2 and 30 minutes for 3-5, it's very limited," she added.

She hopes to produce a finalized plan later this year, and possibly begin a pilot program at the elementary level in School Year 2017-2018. However community support is essential. For those interested in learning more about this plan you can attend a community presentation scheduled for Wednesday at 6pm at the Talofofo Senior Center.

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