Benefits of Dual-Language Learning
Q: What is “immersion”?
A: Immersion is teaching a language by “immersing” students in language—that is—using the students’ second language as the medium of classroom instruction. Immersion, especially at a young age, increases the chances of achieving full fluency in a new language. EL VELERO Spanish Immersion Program is providing bilingual education for a Full-Day Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and a combination 3rd/4th grade class.
We offer 80% Spanish / 20% English for Kindergarten; 70% Spanish / 30% English for 1st grade, 60% Spanish / 40% English for 2nd grade, and 50% Spanish and 50% English for the 3rd/4th graders. Our program flourishes with families committing to a bilingual education throughout their child's elementary education.
For more information about language immersion, bilingualism and dual-language programs in general, please visit the Center for Applied Logistics (www.cal.org) as they provide a wealth of information on these topics. Specifically their Areas of Impact page that can be found here: http://www.cal.org/areas-of-impact/english-learners/bilingual-and-dual-language-education.
Q: What are the benefits of immersion—and, more generally, bilingualism?
A: Numerous studies have been done in recent years, showing the advantages of bilingualism. Some of the more exciting areas of research show that bilingualism has a profound effect on the brain, improving cognitive skills and overall brain function. These effects last until old age. The practical advantages of knowing two languages are also considerable: cultural appreciation, competitive advantage for jobs and college placement, communications skills. For additional information, the Center for Applied Logistics (www.cal.org) has up-to-date research articles on the benefits of learning a second language.
Q: Does immersing kids in a second language confuse them or negatively impact their primary language skills?
A: Not typically. In fact, studies show that language immersion enhances primary language skill. According to a 2009 article in Cornell University’s Chronicle Online, “Learning a second language does not cause language confusion, language delay or cognitive deficit, which have been concerns in the past. In fact, according to studies at the Cornell Language Acquisition Lab (CLAL), children who learn a second language can maintain attention despite outside stimuli better than children who know only one language.”
Q: Are the kids learning math and science in the program?
A: Yes! The same curriculum used in BISD schools is used in Immersion classes. Students are learning about math, science and social studies (and other subjects) in Spanish and English. One of the goals of the District's Spanish Immersion program is to increase overall student achievement, not just language skills.
Q: I don’t know a word of Spanish. Is this a problem if my child is in the Immersion Program?
A: Not at all. We have many parents who do not speak Spanish. The teachers can help answer your questions if something comes up in the homework that is beyond your language ability. And you might find yourself signing up for a class of your own!