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What is Esperanza?

The Esperanza program is a  Spanish multisensory structured language approach for reading, writing, and spelling. The goal of the Esperanza program is to provide a multisensory, sequential, systematic approach to achieve Spanish literacy.

The Esperanza program has an early childhood program for Preschool and Kindergarten called "Lenguaje y Lectura." This program focuses on early literacy skills.  Its components include phonological awareness, the alphabetic principle, phonics, early writing skills, oral language, and comprehension.


The next level of the Esperanza program is designed for emergent readers in first and second grade. The goal of this level  is to systematically and cumulatively develop a strong knowledge of the structure of the Spanish language so that the student can read, write, and spell in their primary language. Once the Esperanza program is completed you may incorporate the WELLS (Working with English Language Learners) program, which is the Esperanza transition program in English that can later be introduced so that the student can then apply his or her knowledge of phonology, phonics, vocabulary, and the rules of one language for the acquisition of the second language.


Subsequently, a structured English language arts program can be incorporated into the classroom while also maintaining a student's primary language skills. Ideally, you would have a "true" bilingual and biliterate student. The most important point to make about the Esperanza program is that it incorporates the essential components of an effective literacy program as defined by the National Literacy Panel. The Esperanza program can also be used as an early reading intervention program for Spanish-speaking students.


History of the Program


The Esperanza program was first developed in 1996 in order to provide a systematic, sequential and explicit approach to teaching Spanish literacy.  It is the only Spanish Orton-Gillingham program in the world.   The program is evidence based as it has been used in three national studies.  Some of the work is described by Dr. Kim Lindsay and Dr. Frank Manis from the University of Southern California. You can also read about the success in the Perspectives journal published by the International Dyslexia Association. 


In addition, Esperanza was the program used by the school districts which were involved in the National Biliteracy Research Grants (DELLS studies sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Development and the Institute of Education Sciences).  The standard scores for reading in Spanish were 120. The program was part of a reading reform effort in Brownsville, Texas which helped the district to improve the literacy outcomes of bilingual students. The Brownsville Independent School District has used this as a part of the core reading program since 1997.  They attribute the 2008 National Broad Award of one million dollars to their successful reading reform efforts.  Most recently, the Houston Independent School District visited Brownsville and began a reading reform effort in the hopes of winning the one million dollar Broad Award like Brownsville.  As a result of reading reform in Houston, they were awarded the Broad Award in 2013.



Esperanza Introduction Video


Watch this clip for an overview of the Esperanza Program presented by the author Dr. Elsa Cárdenas-Hagan and find out more about our Professional Development Services. 

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