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Hoboken Dual Language Charter School (HoLa), a Spanish-English dual language school, has launched a new partnership with the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute (QSSI). The institute works with schools to craft lessons on the Spanish role in the American Revolution, so HoLa has begun incorporating some of their lessons into their middle school Social Studies curriculum. Queen Sofía Spanish Institute provided the school with materials and resources, which the school then integrated into their curriculum in preparation for formal instruction this fall. This initiative was completed as a soft launch in the 2022-2023 school year.
HoLa is promoting Hispanic cultural appreciation by teaching a more inclusive view of history. What makes this curriculum even more unique at HoLa is that these history classes are taught in Spanish, which makes it true to the nature of the historical content. For example, authentic historical texts in the original language are less likely to be biased given their closeness to the primary source.
“Our vibrant community of students, parents, and faculty work together to fulfill our goal of educating global citizens,” said Jen Sargent, Executive Director of HoLa. “Bilingualism is not just a critical 21st-century skill, but a real-life superpower. We value the importance of fostering lifelong learning, encouraging students to think deeply and critically, and to consider a variety of perspectives – and we are fortunate to partner with Queen Sofia Spanish Institute on this initiative.”
Through this partnership with the Institute, HoLa is teaching their students an expanded view of American history, which shows Hispanic Americans had deep roots in America pre-revolution, in contrast to the way they are often portrayed.
The Institute also developed an application called Quizstory, which is available in English and Spanish and was sponsored by Iberdrola and Avangrid. Quizstory has integrated technology into the history lessons through the different scenarios offered in the app, making it interactive for the students to learn.
“I was a high school teacher myself, and in my experience, no teacher teaches what he or she does not know. You never want to be caught in a situation where a student is asking you something and you really don’t have the answer,” explained Begoña Santos, Executive Director of Queen Sofía Spanish Institute. “So alongside the app we developed, there is a very detailed teacher guide with the objective of facilitating the work of the teacher when distributing and teaching the app.”
“It’s disconcerting to be able to speak the language and not know anything about the country of the language. At QSSI we feel that students, researchers, and professors should be given the information as accurately and as close to the primary sources as possible. We’re not here to create one view or the other, absolutely not. We’re here to present history in a very rigorous way. The closer you get to the primary source, the less you can manipulate, and then the conversation can start,” continued Santos.
Although formal instruction with the Quizstory application will not occur until this fall, Elijah Medina, a 7th grade student at HoLa, had a chance to preview the app.
“It was cool to see how many facts I remembered about the Revolutionary War by playing the game. I think this kind of app would be fun to use in class because then we could compete against our friends using what we learned throughout the year,” Medina shared.
HoLa’s staff comes from over 17 different countries, all passionate about education and language immersion. HoLa’s Middle School Social Studies teacher, Jackie Abregú, also shared, “our students are excited to engage in meaningful discussions about American history and contrast different perspectives on important events. Their bilingual skills give them access to these perspectives in a unique way, by bringing together language, culture and history.”
“HoLa is a prime example of how innovative and inclusive a charter school curriculum is,” stated Harry Lee, President and CEO at the New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association (NJPCSA). “NJPCSA is proud of HoLa’s exceptional dedication to student success by enriching them through bilingual education.” burts
Research consistently demonstrates that students in dual language classrooms thrive academically, outperforming their monolingual peers on standardized achievement tests.
Hoboken Dual Language Charter School’s curriculum reflects more than three decades of research in immersion education, integrates best practices of model dual language programs from across the country, and is designed to surpass state curriculum standards while providing the opportunity for students to become proficient in two languages. For more information, visit www.holahoboken.org.