Highly sought-after Arabic program teaches more than language

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- HISD's Arabic Immersion Magnet School will soon serve students from Pre-K to eighth grade.

"My favorite part is going to my class and knowing that I'll learn something new," explained fourth grader Tomas Jurado.

Tomas and his siblings all attend AIMS. They already speak Spanish at home, and now they're working to become trilingual.

"Their job right now is to learn. It's a lot easier for them and it's a lot more accessible," explained his mother, Veronica Jimenes. "Arabic is a critically needed language and there are not enough people who know the language and that's why I chose it."

Back in 2015, the school opened in the Heights as the nation's first public Arabic language immersion school.

So many students applied that it quickly outgrew its building.

It's now located in the former Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts building in the heart of Montrose, and administrators are adding a new grade every year.

Currently, the school serves students from Pre-K until fourth grade, but it will soon accept students from Pre-K to eighth grade.

About 20 percent of students are native Arabic speakers, and the rest are new to the language.

"It is new and it is unique so we kind of have to figure out how to go about doing this and how to approach this because, it's not your traditional way of teaching," said second grade teacher Najah Hijazi.

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