Photos: Kindergartners put on a show — in more than one language

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Phillips Avenue Elementary School teachers Erica Peralta (left) and Kimberly Benkert directed their Dual Language Kindergarten classes in a performance of 'La Gallinita Roja.'

The dual language kindergarten classes and their teachers, Erica Peralta and Kimberly Benkert, performed the musical “La Gallinita Roja” (“The Little Red Hen”) for families and friends Friday morning at Phillips Avenue Elementary School.

The play was the result of the students’ work during readers and language acquisition workshops. Children were given the opportunity to retell stories by acting them out and reading with expression. They did it in their second language as well as their native language.

About 50 children participate in the dual language kindergarten this year, said Elizabeth Scaduto, director of Riverhead school district’s ESL program.

“We’re thrilled to have this program,” she said. “The kids have so much fun, and it’s a tremendous opportunity for non-Spanish-speaking children to learn the language.”

“Of course, the dual language classes help the Spanish-speaking students learn English, too,” added Ms. Benkert. “But it’s also an important boost in self-confidence for the Spanish-speakers.”

The confidence boost comes with helping their English-speaking classmates learn Spanish, she said. For very young children navigating two cultures, that’s really important, she said.

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