Living in a multicultural environment where there may be multiple languages being spoken created a need for families to have more options available. It was a need that Riverbank Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Daryl Camp thought to fill by building an additional program that students can take advantage of called Riverbank Academy of Multilingual Education (R.A.M.E.).
R.A.M.E is not a charter school and is not associated with the existing Riverbank Language Academy (RLA). This new opportunity is a district-sponsored program for second and third language learning, participating in Multilingual Immersion Education.
Rosie Ramos, RUSD English Language Development Coordinator/Dual Language Immersion Consultant, has been working for the district for the past two years and prior to that she was working with the district for the past 30 years as a Dual Language Immersion teacher, as coordinator, and administrator at RLA.
Seventeen years ago Ramos spearheaded the program for Multilingual Immersion Education and was the first teacher of Dual Language Immersion kindergarten classes that started out as a program and 10 years later became a charter school that is now known as RLA.
“We are starting very small with one TK class and two Kindergarten classes for students ages four to five years old,” said Ramos. “Our focus is building not just two languages but a third language which is Mandarin Chinese so (what) we are working on at this point is just introducing the culture for the next three or four years and then hiring a professional Mandarin Chinese teacher to introduce the reading, writing, the formal Mandarin Chinese language, possibly by fourth grade.”
The goal of the program is to provide students with academics in more than two languages and cross cultural understanding.
“The opportunities out there are tremendous for children that learn more than two languages so in this case we are adding Mandarin Chinese,” stated Ramos. “It is a very ambitious endeavor because we don’t have any schools in the area that have multiple languages available to students.”
Currently the Transitional Kindergarten class of 11 students and the two kindergarten classes of approximately 23 students each has been well received in the community and the R.A.M.E. program is hosted at California Avenue Elementary.
“We are very surprised and excited that there were so many people interested in participating in our program so we accept students from outside our school boundaries,” added Ramos. “We feel like if they are interested and want their children to learn a second language we give them that opportunity as well.”
The classes will follow the same standards as any of the other classes however, they will learn part of their academics in Spanish and part will be in English where they will participate in songs and many other things to make it comprehensible for that particular subject matter.
According to Ramos, the idea is not only to have students learn multiple languages but to have an opportunity that will also help children respect and appreciate different cultures. By learning the different languages at a young age, Ramos explained that they will be able to speak like a native speaker.
At a recent visit to Cal Avenue, Transitional Kindergarten teacher Erika Jimenez, Kindergarten teachers Luz Ramos and Brenda Insurriaga were instructing the students in Spanish.
“R.A.M.E alumni will have the advantage because not only will they speak three languages, but they will be able to empathize and understand two cultures besides their own,” Insurriaga noted. “We have been in school three weeks now and I can already see students growing and speaking Spanish.”
“I am really enjoying the TK class this year. I love the passion that these students have for learning and all that energy that they possess, which transfers over to me allowing me to keep up with their young hearts,” Jimenez added. “The R.A.M.E. program has really provided the community with an alternative form of education, and I’ve noticed that the community is really anxious and eager to have this option available to them.
“The R.A.M.E. program prepares these students to be global learners, thinkers and multilingual, which is definitely essential and instrumental to participate in our global society.”
“Basically, this opportunity for our students to learn multiple languages will better prepare them for 21st century learning,” expressed Ramos. “We are looking forward to seeing how this is going to evolve.”
The classes are currently in session and the enrollment is open to all students.
For more information on the program contact Ramos at 209-869-2538.