SPANISH IMMERSION

Language is a tool developed over time by a community of people with which we construct and share knowledge, create meaning, communicate ideas and feelings and develop relationships with others. Because language arises from communities of people, each language in addition to being a tool, is also a form of cultural expression and identity. Learning a new language, then, is not a simple academic pursuit, but rather a process that opens minds and hearts to new perspectives and new communities.

There are many benefits to learning multiple languages.
1) Learning multiple languages gives your child access to a broader range of communities and cultures, enriching his or her social relationships and understanding of the world.
2) A community that is biliterate, bilingual and sensitive to cultural nuances is better prepared to be a strong ally for others as we pursue social justice for all.
3) Brain research tells us that the act of learning multiple languages at a young age stimulates brain development in unique ways that not only supports growth in language, but in other mental capacities as well.
4) Fluency in Spanish and English will open more job opportunities in the future.

Immersion Language Model

Our school follows a dual immersion model in which instruction in preschool through 1st grade is exclusively in Spanish. In our 2/3 class all instruction from our lead teachers will be in Spanish, enriched with art classes and cultural activities offered by English-speaking teachers or volunteers. In our 4/5 class students will work to transfer their reading and writing skills to English, while continuing their instruction in Spanish about 60% of the time. During the middle school years we strive for our time at school to be about evenly split between Spanish and English, with the goal of full biliteracy by the end of 8th grade. To reach this goal, however, students need a clear sense of motivation and support both at school and at home.

Family Committment to Spanish

No one in our family speaks Spanish, what can we do to support our child? There are so many things families can do to support their child as they learn Spanish! The most important step families can take is to express your confidence in your child that he or she will be successful in the challenges of learning a second language and to communicate clearly why you value Spanish.

In your child's early years, we would also expect that at least one parent participate in some basic Spanish classes as well, preferably with your child (something that we might be able to offer as a school ourselves). This offers you the opportunity to model a positive attitude towards trying out a new language, making mistakes and enjoying the learning process. In addition, having a basic set of vocabulary words and sense of how to decode Spanish words will help you read simple books in Spanish with your child. Both of these steps would communicate to your child that you value Spanish and would support his or her transition to Spanish.

While we do not expect English-speaking parents to become bilingual, we have seen from experience that parents who continue their personal committment to Spanish through-out their children's education are better able to support and celebrate their children's experiences in school.