It's one of the most popular education programs in San Diego County, but there isn't enough room for all the students who want to participate in the Chula Vista Elementary School District's Dual Language Immersion Program .
The program immerses children from kindergarten through the sixth grade in Spanish. All the classes are taught in Spanish.
"Students who stay in that program, by the time they're in the fifth or sixth grade, they're performing at or above their peers in all standard measures," said Camarena Elementary School Principal Dr. Dan Winters.
"They know they're going to be competitive in the workforce when they grow up," said first grade teacher Angelica Sandoval.
Camarena, located in Chula Vista's Otay Ranch neighborhood, is one of the 19 schools in the district offering dual language immersion. There are 4,400 students enrolled, but only 200 teachers are able to handle the lesson load.
"Every year, we have between 25 and 30 people on the waiting list," said Winters.
"As soon as one person leaves, people know," Sandoval added.
The biggest problem facing the school district is they simply don't have enough teachers who can teach in Spanish.
"Spanish is their second language and sometimes it's not up to par with what the kids should learn," explained Sandoval. "We actually have them do a lesson in Spanish to see how well they can speak in front of the kids."
As part of the program, teachers need to teach all the traditional school subjects in Spanish. It sometimes means translating a lesson before it is taught.
"My job is pretty hard," said Sandoval.
Winters said they're always looking for candidates.
"We've seen a shortage of teachers across the state," he said. "If they are qualified, there will be positions available for them."