FAQs About Dual Language

– FAQs –

Stedman’s Spanish Immersion Program

What is Spanish Immersion?

Spanish Immersion is an educational model that integrates native English speakers and native Spanish speakers for all or most of the day, with the goals of promoting high academic achievement, first-and second-language development and cross-cultural understanding for all students. In this program, language learning takes place primarily through Spanish instruction. As students and teachers work together to perform academic tasks, the students’ language abilities are developed along with their knowledge of content area subject matter.

How can I help support my child in doing homework in the second language, particularly if I don’t know that language?

  • Parents can support students at home by making sure that they have the right environment and tools to get homework done (e.g., a quiet space and enough time, paper, dictionaries in both languages, writing utensils, and art supplies). Parents can also ask questions about the homework in the language spoken at home, thus giving the students opportunities to explain the assignment in their first language.
  • Your child will most likely know what the teacher wants them to do on any homework, even if the directions are in Spanish. If you can’t figure it out, help your child do their best and return it with a note to the teacher telling him/her you didn’t know what to do. Keep the lines of communication open with your teacher through email and in person to make sure you are all working together.

Will my child confuse the languages?

No, children know when the teacher is using Spanish and when the teacher is using English. Your child will switch back and forth in the same way as a completely bilingual adult without thinking about “which” language they are using.

Will my child understand what the teacher is saying?

  • Teachers in an immersion classroom use many techniques to teach; body language, visual cues, physical cues etc. to help students understand. And don’t forget about the other children in the class. They are learning together and are partners. As the children communicate together they are helping each other grow in both languages as well.
  • Teachers will be able to see in the students’ faces whether they are following a lesson or not but encourage your child to ask questions if they don’t understand.

Will my child learn the same things as students in the monolingual English  classes?

  • Yes, students in the immersion program will work toward the same academic goals and standards and utilize the same curriculum as those in the monolingual English classroom.
  • Our immersion classes follow the same daily instructional schedule as the monolingual English classes.
  • Our instructional coaches lead our teachers in collaborative planning to ensure equity in instruction in each grade level in both Spanish and English classrooms.

How can I  support my child in the program?

  • Encourage your child by telling him/her how proud you are that he/she is learning a second language. Let your child know you are please with his/her progress. Show him/her that you value the ability to speak a second language.
  • Here are some suggestions on how you can help:
    • Encourage your child’s interest in the language and other cultures.
    • Attend cultural events that feature the music, dance or food from the country where the language is spoken.
    • Provide books, videos, and other materials in the second language.
    • Be actively involved in your child’s school.
    • Teach your child the songs and nursery rhymes from his/her own heritage.
    • Read stories to your child in Spanish/English.
    • Encourage, but do not force your child to speak the second language at home.
    • Get to know your child’s teacher either by phone, email or personal visits.
    • Take time to get involved with school activities.
    • Be supportive at all times of your child, the program and the teacher

What about the first days in immersion?

Do not feel discouraged if, at the beginning, your child cries or seems nervous about the experience. Your child will need some time to adjust to this new challenge. From the start, the students are made to feel secure. Be patient. By the end of the first month, most of the students are over the initial adjustment. When your child comes home, do not be upset if he/she does not feel like talking about his/her day at school. Children often are very tired after their day and are in need of a change once they get home. If you feel that your child is continuously experiencing anxiety, discuss this issue with your child’s teacher.

Will my child be tested in English or Spanish?

  • In immersion classrooms, students are assessed in the language of instruction.
  • Stedman collaborates with the other DPS Dual Language schools to plan for the best possible supports for our immersion  students as new assessments or new assessment policies are released
  • Students in immersion  classrooms may not be proficient on all grade level standards in Grades 1-3 of the program as they become proficient in their second language. However, ultimately students in immersion programs will outperform their monolingual peers.
  • English speaking students will take CMAS (grades 3-5) in their native language (English).

Will my child fall behind academically because the teacher uses their non-native language?

  • Initially children in immersion  classrooms may have lower standardized test scores but ultimately they not only score significantly higher than their monolingual peers, they also acquire a second language for their lifelong use.
  • A four-year, randomized trial found that dual language students outperformed their peers in English-reading skills by a full school year’s worth of learning by the end of middle school.
  • Concepts learned in either language become a part of the child’s general knowledge. Many concepts transfer from one language to another.
  • Please see the following websites for more information on current research in language learning: Center for Applied Linguistics (www.cal.org), Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (www.carla.umn.edu) , National Association of Bilingual Education (www.nabe.org) , Illinois Research Center (www.thecenterweb.org/irc/) , Dual Language Education of New Mexico (www.dlenm.org/).

When will my child become fluent?

Do not expect your child to start speaking the second language after the first few weeks. He/she is in the listening phase of his/her second language development. Your child will become familiar with vocabulary and then will begin to take the steps to speak the second language. Do NOT compare your child to other students. Learning a second language is a five to seven year process, and each child develops at his/her own rate.

What are the characteristics of students who are successful in immersion programs?

  • Successful students tend to enjoy learning new things, and also like meeting and interacting with people from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
  • Successful students tend to have parents who strongly support the program. Parents who truly understand and embrace immersion and its goals will transmit their positive attitudes to their children.
  • Successful students understand and embrace the philosophy of immersion education. They realize that learning in two languages can be challenging at times, especially for students from a monolingual background. The successful student perseveres and learns to take risks in speaking and writing the second language.

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Finally, a terrific article on the brain benefits of bilingual education can be found HERE. These brain benefits include:

  • Attention
  • Empathy
  • Reading in English
  • School performance and engagement
  • Diversity & Integration
  • Protection against cognitive decline and dementia

We hope you consider joining our program today. Dual Language now enrolling in ECE-3 through 4th Grade for the 2019-2020 school year!