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    Puente de Hózhó Bilingual Magnet School Language Policy 2020/2021

    Puente de Hózhó (PdH) Elementary School is a trilingual language school located in Flagstaff, Arizona and is a part of the Flagstaff Unified School District. PdH is a "dual-language school" comprising a Navajo Immersion Language Program and a Spanish-English BilingualProgram. We serve students from Kindergarten through 5th-grade, but a 6-12 International Baccalaureate Continuum is being established to complement PdH's programming. Featured in the Harvard Education Review for "best practices" for culturally sustaining and revitalizing teaching, PdH holds a radical belief in the potential of children, culture, and language in a local, regional, national, and international context. Consequently, PdH is also proud to call itself an International Baccalaureate Candidate School in addition to our stated vision, mission, and goals.

    Puente de Hózhó's Vision and Mission

    Our vision and mission are to build a “bridge of beauty” between speakers and learners of Diné (Navajo), Spanish, and English and empower children to be multicultural and multilingual stewards of the world. Our mission is to provide an educational environment where students can pursue the following goals:

    Academic excellence: Students will meet or exceed state, national, and international academic standards.

    Bilingualism: Students will become proficient speakers, readers, and writers of Spanish, Diné, and English.

    Culture:  Students will affirm their cultural identity, explore other cultures and cultural issues, and develop a multicultural and pluralistic vision of the world.

    Diversity: Students will experience the power and beauty of diversity and recognize its potential to enrich, enlighten, and ameliorate classrooms, communities, and the world around them.

    Puente de Hózhó is successful at this charge, and our school community believes that educational inequity, in general, is solvable, have a grounded understanding of how to solve it, and believe that solving it is of critical importance via meaningful teaching and learning. We bring strong leadership to all levels of the school in addressing the extra challenges facing children in all communities, low-income and otherwise, and fundamentally change the prevailing ideology around the potential of all children. We ground ourselves in the big picture in order to ensure that, as we work to achieve our mission and vision into the necessary components and measurements of student success, we never lose sight of the real outcomes we’re collectively driving toward - building a “bridge of beauty” between speakers and learners of Diné, Spanish, and English and empowering children to be multicultural and multilingual stewards of their world. Our school mission and vision collectively make up our north star and motivate our best thinking and most purposeful action.

    IBO Mission Statement

    The International Baccalaureate Organization aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. To this end, the IBO works with schools, governments, and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment. These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

    Language Overview

    Language is life, and language is sacred. It is the bridge to hózhó (the Beauty Way).  Language both distinguishes and connects us as human beings.  By learning to speak, read, and write Diné bizaad, children can reconnect with their Diné culture and heritage, or they can explore a new world that is a window to their own.  All become future guardians of the Diné language.

    For this reason, students in the Diné Immersion Program are taught the language skills needed to express themselves using Diné bizaad both formally and informally, in conversational and academic contexts.  Our goal is for all students to become highly competent speakers, readers, and writers of the Diné language. Historically, Puente de Hózhó evolved in response to specific ideals for public schooling. The idea was to create an educational environment where students of different linguistic and cultural backgrounds could learn harmoniously together while pursuing “the Power of Two,” or the ability to speak, read, and write proficiently in two languages. On a grander scale, the vision was to create a school where each child’s language and culture was regarded not as a problem to be solved but as an indispensable resource, the very heart, and soul of the school itself. Such a school could be a symbiotic juggernaut, mutually beneficial to all: English speakers would learn Spanish, Spanish speakers would learn English, Navajo children would acquire their tribal language, and all students would interact in a pluralistic setting and achieve academically at a high and meaningful level.

    Objective of the Language Policy Document

    The language policy document seeks to consolidate philosophy and beliefs at Puente de Hózhó Bilingual Magnet School regarding language and its implementation in language teaching. It also aims to outline systems and strategies in place to support the development of all languages as an aid in the revitalization of mother tongue in the school community. This document will guide any and implementation of language teaching, curriculum planning, and professional development. A language committee is established to complete a full policy review annually.


    We are language teachers. At Puente de Hózhó, we believe in the power of language to build mutual understanding, stewardship, and leadership at home and around the world. Consequently, we are all language teachers. Language proficiency--and celebrating, sustaining, and revitalizing the fabric of culture embedded in language--is our ultimate goal. PdH is a dual-language immersion school that consists of two language programs. We have a Spanish-English Program and a Diné (Navajo)/English Program. Both programs provide challenging linguistic environments that aim toward bilingualism, upholding the values of diversity and international mindedness, while ensuring students are on a college-preparatory track. Students from both language programs take English together in the later grades to further learn from one another and further our mission of "bridging" the cultures and languages of the Southwest.


    The Diné Immersion Program educates the future guardians of the Diné language and culture by building a bridge of beauty between the timeless teachings of the past with the knowledge and technologies of the present. Our Diné Language Program is a rigorous language preservation and revitalization program for families looking for a culturally-relevant educational experience that is rooted in Diné culture, leadership, and college preparation. 


    The mission of the Diné Immersion Program is to provide an educational environment in which students can learn the Diné language and live the Diné culture while pursuing the following goals:

    A        Academic excellence:  Students will meet or exceed all academic, language, and cultural standards.

    B        Bilingualism:  Students will become proficient speakers, readers, and writers of Diné and English.

    C        Cultural immersion:  Students will become aware of the Beauty Way teachings and will be encouraged to apply these teachings in all aspects of their lives with home and community support.

    D       Diné technologies:  Students will utilize modern technologies to explore Diné language, culture, art, literature, and history.  


    Our Diné language is a gift from the Holy People.  It enables us to connect with the Creator, Mother Earth, the Universe, and all things in it.  Our language uniquely identifies us as Diné and is used wisely and thoughtfully to express kind words and positive feelings.  It is also used for thinking and planning, with life and with prayer.  Our language is the birthright of all Diné children.

    For many students, learning another language provides academic, social, and even professional benefits.  For Diné children, learning the Diné language is essential to self-identity and cultural survival.  If we lose our language, we will lose the soul of our culture.

    Preserving the Diné language must be a collective effort shared by parents, students, teachers, and the community. To preserve the language, we must teach it to our children.  To teach it, we must speak the language and speak it often.  

    The most effective way to learn a language is to be fully immersed in it at home, at school, and in the community.   Language is learned by first listening to meaningful language and then speaking the language in meaningful situations.  Language is learned through practice, daily routines, repetition, songs, stories, and role-playing.  Mistakes are encouraged to instill perseverance and strength, as learning is scaffolded to produce proficiency in the language.

    An effective Dine immersion program will help preserve the Diné language. It will include academic and conversational instruction. The subject matter, such as math, science, social studies, etc., will be taught using the Diné language. In addition, certain language structures will be taught explicitly. During immersion instruction, teachers will stay in the language by speaking Diné Bizaad while encouraging students to do the same.

    In the Beauty Way teachings, our children will learn the language and culture so they can prepare themselves for a better future, with a greater sense of who they are and their role in the world. In the Beauty Way, they will walk, in beauty, they have walked, in beauty, they will learn their Diné language and culture. Hozho nahasdlii.

    Spanish Vision of Language Teaching

    The Spanish Immersion Program builds a “bridge of beauty” between speakers and learners of Spanish to empower them to be multicultural and multilingual stewards of the world.

    Spanish Mission

     The mission of the Spanish Immersion Program is to provide an educational environment where students can pursue the goals of

    A        Academic Excellence: Students will meet or exceed state and national academic standards.

    B        Bilingualism: Students will become proficient speakers, readers, and writers of Spanish and English.

    C        Cultural identity, preservation, and inclusion: Students will affirm their cultural identity, explore other cultures and cultural issues, and develop a multicultural vision of the world.

    D        Diversity: Students will experience the power and beauty of multiculturalism and multilingualism and recognize its potential to enrich, enlighten, and ameliorate classrooms, communities, and the world.

    Philosophy of Spanish Language Teaching

    The purpose of our Spanish Immersion Program is to help students become proficient speakers, readers, and writers of Spanish while acquiring a multicultural and multilingual vision of the world. For native English-speaking students who are learning Spanish, our program represents a passport to explore and experience countries and cultures throughout the world. For native Spanish speakers who are learning English, our program provides students a unique opportunity to master their mother tongue in a sophisticated level of academic and social discourse that will enable them to shatter social, financial, and professional glass ceilings. For children of Hispanic descent who do not speak Spanish, it is an opportunity to re-build linguistic and cultural bridges binding families through generations. For all three groups, our program is an opportunity for students to experience a rich interchange of language, culture, ideas, and friendship. At the same time, our students develop not only awareness and appreciation of the power and beauty of diversity but also a firm conviction that is one of our greatest sources of strength as human beings. Our Spanish Immersion Program at Puente de Hozho is committed to promote and preserve multicultural individual and unique expressions of the Hispanic culture and language by nurturing our students to build strong identities and develop 21st-century skills.


    Language is power and potential. Through language, we each tell our story. If we are unable to tell it, then either it will not be told, or someone else will tell it for us. For this reason, all students at Puente de Hozho need to master the language of their home, which is the language of their heart. For many, this is Spanish, for others English, and for some Diné or another language.

    Regardless of the home language, every student at Puente de Hozho also needs to learn English and learn it exceptionally well, both formal and informal, conversational and academic. One reason is the opportunity. Over the centuries, English has evolved into a major lingua franca; it is a passport for participating in academic discourse on the international stage and for interacting in a global society. In the United States, a strong command of English is essential for maximizing social, educational, and economic mobility. Most importantly, however, English is the thread that weaves together our collective identity; it is the common language of our school, of our community, and of the United States.

    Learning another language can be one of the most enlightening and rewarding journeys in a child’s educational experience. While there are many language program models and methodologies, a well-designed and well-implemented immersion program is the fastest and most effective way to teach a second language to school-aged children. Immersion teachers support students’ foundational learning in their native (first) language to enhance the acquisition and transfer of the second language.

    The goal of the English immersion program is to produce independent, masterful speakers, readers, and writers of the English language. Students engage within an authentic, purposeful, relevant, and social learning community, making genuine connections between the language they speak, read, and write and the world in which they live. Immersion teachers create a learning environment for students to master the English language in student-directed contexts. This empowers students to use language as a tool for achieving lifelong dreams and goals. It enables students to tell their stories and understand the stories of others. Language learning is transformative. It can change a child and a child can change the world.

    English Language Learners

    Diversity is beautiful. Students who come from diverse family backgrounds are valuable resources to the school, the community, and beyond. Students who are both bilingual and biliterate will likely go on to enjoy a more comfortable life both socially and financially. We strive to ensure all students attain English language proficiency and literacy at the highest level. It is our ambition to nurture our English language learners so they can academically solidify and master their mother tongue and become exceedingly proficient in the English language. Our program, teachers, and staff, remain focused on assisting our English Language Learners and do so diligently until they reach their highest potential.

    Creation of Language Profile for all Language Learning Students

    A language profile gives teachers an overview of the students` language level and history, as well as build up a picture of the students` use of English and their second language outside of school. This process will establish a language pathway for each student

    • Year and grade entering Puente de Hózhó
    • Year and grade entering the IB (if different to above):
    • English phase when starting Puente de Hózhó’s IB program:
    • English phase at the end of year 5
    • External English, Spanish or Diné Language tests and results–type of test, level achieved, year taken. (ENIL, URLA, DOLPA)
    • Previous education in the second language:
    • Parents/guardians non-mother tongue language proficiencies–include language spoken to each parent not including mother tongue language.
    • Other languages studied other than English, Spanish or Diné .
    • Language or learning concerns / issues in learning second language
    • Other personal connections to foreign countries and/or languages.

    Beliefs and Practice

    We support bilingual education through a dual language Spanish/English program and a nationally recognized Navajo language revitalization program. The development of mother tongue is integral for cognitive development, and maintaining cultural identity. High academic achievement links to the mastery of mother-tongue. Learning a new language is a sophisticated process leading to a series of developmental continuums. Language plays a vital role in the construction of meaning and empowers learners by providing an intellectual framework to support conceptual development. Language teaching and learning is also at an intersection between disciplines that are conceptualized and developed differently in various languages and academic traditions. It is essential that students have the opportunities to:

    • Interact globally immersed in relevant themes
    • Practice their bilingualism in reading and writing, and in listening and speaking
    • Learn to collaborate with others who speak a different language
    • Comprehend and communicate across multiple text types
    • Fine-tune their research skills to gather and present information using rich non-literary material.

    Components of Collaborative Unit Planning

    • Enable all students to gain access to the curriculum by creating specially designed PYP units in all three languages.
    • Shared responsibility for unit planning and learning for all students.
    • Unit planning provides inquiry-based concepts and ideas for all students.
    • Enriches learning experiences to address skills, interests, and learning styles.
    • Increases student achievement by maximizing opportunities for student learning.

     Development of Knowledge and Skills

    Language is a complex web-like combination that goes beyond the (not made by nature/fake) separations of fields of study. When the three parts of learning language, learning about language and learning through language, introduced earlier in this document, operate together in a (clearly connected or related) big picture, they provide the most supportive learning conditions of all language learners. We want to increase students' use of language, appreciation of language, the know-how of the character of language, of the various effects on language, and the range in and among languages (different versions of a language). Students should recognize the transdisciplinary nature of language--they use language within and across the subject areas and in a way that goes beyond them, both inside and outside the classroom. They should be encouraged to recognize that (something that a person is good at) in language--and in more than one language--is a valuable life skill, a powerful tool both in communication and as a means of personal reflection.

    Mother Tongue

    PdH recognizes that mother tongue is an integral part of an individual’s identity and it is important to affirm, value and promote students' mother tongue. It also acknowledges the need for developing, revitalizing, and maintaining students' mother tongue. This belief encourages the attributes identified in the IB learner profile, as well as promotes responsible action and international-mindedness. Our school embraces the diversity of its student population, providing many opportunities for communication and performance in a student’s mother tongue, and also as a means to educate others in the student’s culture.

    All Teachers are Language Teachers

    • Students write and complete oral assessments in several content areas
    • Teachers have the responsibility for teaching grammar and vocabulary in their language by planning activities that maximize the learning of academic literacy.
    • Starting as early as third grade a required state assessment (AzMerit) contains a writing component. Therefore, all teachers include writing process skills across the curriculum
    • Teachers are aware of each student’s language abilities and scaffold instruction to differentiate activities for diverse learners
    • The state of Arizona allows specific testing accommodations on state tests such as having the test read to the student, bilingual dictionaries, extra time, clarification in English of word meaning in written prompts.

    PdH is a “one-way” and a “two-way” language immersion school. Here is a side-by-side comparison of what these terms mean.




    • Empower and develop bilingual, bi-literate students

    • Acquisition of a second language while maintaining their own. Developing positive cross-cultural understanding.

    • Student population includes only native Navajo speakers.

     • Languages of Instruction are Navajo and English.

     • Program entry for ELL students can occur in grades K-5

     • Parent permission required for participation of ELL students

    • Oral Proficiency: Initial assessment in both languages. Annual Assessment in both languages.

    • Literacy assessments in both languages.

    • Language distribution 50/50 beginning in Kindergarten

    • Intervention for students are conducted in the language of instruction

    • Empower and develop bilingual, bi-literate students

    • Acquisition of a second language while maintaining their own. Developing positive cross-cultural understanding.

    • Student population includes native Spanish speakers and native English speakers.

    • Languages of Instruction are Spanish and English.

    • Program entry for ELL students can occur in grades K-5. Initial program entry for non-ELL students can occur in grades K and up to the first semester of 1st grade.

    • Parent permission required for participation of ELL students

    • Oral Proficiency: Initial assessment in both languages. Annual Assessment in both languages.

    • Literacy assessments in both languages.

    • Language distribution 50/50 beginning in Kindergarten

    • Intervention for students are conducted in the language of instruction

    The “one-way” model is our Navajo Language Program, which at its best, is a 90% Navajo immersion in kindergarten; 80% Navajo immersion day in first-grade; and 50% immersion in Navajo from second-grade through fifth-grade. Our “two way” model is our Spanish/English program, which consists of both “Language 1” (L1) Spanish and English speakers.

    Arizona Seal of Biliteracy

    As we continue to improve our bilingual programming, there are two state-sponsored examinations we are studying: The Navajo and Spanish Seal of Biliteracy. The Arizona Seal of Biliteracy recognizes high school students who achieve proficiency in English plus one additional language. The seal is placed on a student’s diploma and noted on their transcript, therefore recognizing biliteracy to universities and employers. Students attending bilingual schools can take the examination as early as 7th Grade, which is an exciting opportunity for PdH students.