FAQs About Dual Language

FAQs – Stedman’s Dual Language Spanish Immersion Program

What is Dual Language Spanish Immersion?

  • Dual Language Spanish Immersion is an educational model that integrates native English speakers and native speakers of Spanish 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 a dual language 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 regular classes?

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

How can parents support their 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 parents 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 English/Spanish.
    • 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, it would be wise to discuss this issue with your child’s teacher.

Will my child be tested in English or Spanish?

  • In Dual Language 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 Dual Language students as new assessments or new assessment policies are released
  • Students in Dual Language 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 Dual Language programs will outperform their monolingual peers.

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

  • Initially children in dual language classrooms may have lower standardized test scores but ultimately they not only score significantly higher than their monolingual peers, but they also acquire a second language for their lifelong use.
  • A four-year, randomized trial and 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 language 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 DL students. Learning a second language is a five to seven year process, and each child develops at his/her rate.

What are the characteristics of students who are successful in dual language 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 dual language and its goals will transmit their positive attitudes to their children.
  • Successful students understand and embrace the philosophy of dual language 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-4, Kindergarten, and 1st Grade for the 2016-2017 school year!