- Associated Press - Sunday, May 21, 2017

GALLUP, N.M. (AP) - A new program will give Gallup-McKinley County Schools students the opportunity to speak and write in another language, including indigenous languages.

The district’s Board of Education last week approved plans to incorporate the New Mexico State Bilingual Multicultural Education Program for middle school and high school students who plan to become bilingual in a second language other than Spanish and English, the Gallup Independent reported.

“Right now, we need a partnership with the community because indigenous (Native American) language is important,” said Patrick Werito, the coordinator of tribal initiatives for Dual Language Education of New Mexico.

Dual Language Education of New Mexico coordinators will speak with schools that already have indigenous language courses and explore the possibility of creating a dual language education program. Werito said he plans to incorporate indigenous languages, particularly Navajo, into area schools.

“Mainly, our goal is to focus on indigenous language in schools within the district,” Werito said.

The program is expected to start with Navajo Elementary School in Navajo, New Mexico, which will create a framework that can be used at other sites.

Students will learn literacy and content in two languages, while also working toward meeting the standards and benchmarks in subject areas including English, math, science, social studies and arts.

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