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Dual immersion program lets students work on projects together online
Hall schools team with classes in Mexico
Photos by SCOTT ROGERS | The Times World Language Academy teacher Yolanda Puente helps second-grader Brody Waller with his math problem Friday morning during a dual-immersion classroom. The students are taught their lessons in Spanish for part of the day and English for the rest.

Students in Hall County Schools and students at a private school in Guanajuato, Mexico, may not have much in common.

But they may soon have more.

Representatives from the Academia Internacional of San Miguel de Allende, a private dual immersion school for students from pre-K through 12th grade in central Mexico, and from the Universidad Pedagógica Nacional in Guanajuato, Mexico, visited Hall County this week to discuss a possible teacher-exchange program.

“We met to see if we could try to create teacher exchange programs and collaborate through distance learning as well for similar classes that we have for students in Mexico and students in Georgia to support each other,” said Lore Carrera-Carrillo, general director of the Academia Internacional of San Miguel de Allende.

The program could allow teachers from each region to learn new techniques through the exchange, and it could allow students at World Language Academy in Hall County to work on some projects online with students across the border.

Carrera-Carrillo said her school’s region and Georgia have resources the other needs.

“In central Mexico, where we’re from, we need English-speaking teachers because we have a 30 percent ex-pat community over there of Americans and Canadians,” she said. “And we know that Georgia needs Spanish-speaking teachers, and you all have a large population of immigrant Spanish-speaking students.”

Carrera-Carrillo was joined on the trip by Raul Martinez-Cortes, director of the Universidad Pedagógica Nacional Unidad III Subsede Dolores Hidalgo. He works with indigenous communities in central Mexico to preserve their languages and culture. He designed an educator endorsement program for teacher competencies used in teacher preparation programs in Guanajuato, according to a release.

“He’s also trying to establish collaborations to get masters students as well as bachelor-level students here to Georgia, and vice versa,” Carrera-Carrillo said.

Carrera-Carrillo and Martinez-Cortes visited World Language Academy in Hall County, where they observed several dual-immersion classes.

“We are very impressed with those classrooms,” she said.

They also visited West Hall High School to sit in on some International Baccalaureate classes. Carrera-Carrillo’s school in Mexico is an IB school.

They then met with representatives from Brenau University, Piedmont College, the University of Georgia and the University of North Georgia to discuss further collaborations between Georgia universities and the Universidad Pedagógica Nacional.

“It would enrich their experience for teaching, because they would learn about different ways to work in the teaching profession,” Martinez-Cortes said in Spanish. “And I believe we could open some research lines about education.”

Martinez-Cortes said he is interested in having local teachers visit Mexico to experience the culture and language immersively, and to improve instructional practices in both places.

“We’ve started the first steps toward making this a reality,” Carrera-Carrillo said. “We see a strong potential for this to really happen.”

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