Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I choose immersion education for my child?
Parents want to make the best educational choices for their children, and many would like them to have the advantages of bilingualism. The ability to understand and speak more than one language is not the only benefit of immersion education. Research shows that students gain additional cognitive, academic and employment benefits.
How does immersion differ from other types of language instruction?
In traditional second language instruction, the target language is the subject of instruction. Immersion programs use the target language for instruction and as a means of communication. This authentic communication allows students to learn a second language in a similar manner to the way that they have learned their first.
Will immersion education affect my child’s English-language skills?
Students can add a second language at no cost to their first language competence (additive bilingualism) because languages are interdependent. Skills developed in the second language are available for learning and using in the first language and vice versa. First-language arts are introduced by the middle elementary years, while family and community also reinforce first language skills. (Lazaruk, in press)
Research has shown that “the effect of learning a second language on first-language skills has been positive in all studies done…. [and] the loss of instructional time in English has never been shown to have negative effects on the achievement of the first language.” (Bournot-Trites & Tellowitz, 2002) In fact, immersion students match and often surpass English program students’ performance by Grade 4 or 5 after first-language arts are introduced in the middle elementary years. (Turnbull, Hart & Lapkin, 2000)
How can I help my child if I don’t know the language?
Immersion teachers know that most parents don’t understand the target language. Indeed, immersion programs were designed specifically for children of unilingual parents. You can help make your child’s second-language experience positive and lasting by being supportive and enthusiastic. Research shows that students whose parents have positive attitudes towards the target language do better in immersion programs. Remember that most skills learned in the first language are transferred to the second. Read to your children in English, encourage English writing, and introduce English-language word games like crossword puzzles, word searches, Scrabble and Password. Provide opportunities to use the target language outside of the classroom: borrow or buy books and videos, watch second-language TV with your child, and expose your child to second-language events and activities like plays, interest courses, and sport activities.
What percentage of the time is Spanish used in the preschool classroom? Our preschool classes are 95 % Immersion. Spanish is our language of instruction/communication with the students. We will use English if a student needs to be comforted or if there is a behavioral issue.
We don’t speak Spanish at home. Will this be a problem for my preschooler? Parents are not expected to teach or even understand Spanish. Students are hearing, seeing, ‘being’ the language the entire time they are at school. You will find them singing class songs pretty quickly and all throughout the year. We send a weekly newsletter home so parents can re-inforce skill concepts – not necessarily language skills. We will include links to our most common songs so parents can acquire those for home use. Students will acquire their language skills in the classroom through peer interaction, and whole-language experiences.
What are the ages for the preschool classes? At Spanish With Sarah we believe in the power of learning from our peers. Each of our classes is multi-level, multi-age. We enroll students ages 3-turning 5 in our preschool classes. Older or more experiences students benefit from being a model of correct behavior, singing old and new songs, and building upon their previous experiences. Newer or younger students have the added benefit of learning from not only the teacher but their more experienced peers. It is a wonderful thing to learn from each other!
What are the preschool class options? Could my child attend all day or even 5-mornings a week? Parents have the option to enroll their child in multiple classes. We do not have a 5-day or even full-day preschool class but students may attend multiple classes. The monthly themes and weekly skills will remain the same for each of the classes but the activities within each class will be different. This provides more opportunity for skill practice and reinforcement.
What is the student:teacher ratio in the preschool classes? We have a maximum of 10 students in a preschool class. If we see a larger number of 3-year olds enrolling in a class we will limit the class to 8 students.
What does my child need to bring to each class? All supplies are included in your tuition and one-time supply fee. Your child should dress comfortable with appropriate clothing for messy projects and outdoor play. A backpack is a great idea to help carry projects home. Everything else is provided.
How does snack work? We provide a healthy snack during each preschool class. Snack is most typically a fruit or a vegetable. This is included in your monthly tuition.
Are preschoolers included in school-wide events? Spanish With Sarah will have Game Nights, Parent’s Night Out, Pumpkin Runs, Field Days, etc. All families are invited and encouraged to attend.
Kindergarten – Fifth Grade
My child didn’t attend immersion preschool. Will this put him/her at a disadvantage? Our classes are a mixture of students who attended our preschool program and students who did not. Your child would quickly overcome their lack of prior-language skills, in large part due to their peers modeling correct pronunciation, sentence structure, etc.
If reading is taught in Spanish how will my child learn to read in English? Although our Language Arts program is taught during the Spanish portion of the day, we do teach English reading and writing through our Science and History & Geography subjects. We also use a wonderful English spelling program called Words Their Way. Typically our students are very strong, above level, English readers.
Where happens when my child leaves the full-time program? We offer after school Spanish enrichment programs for children ages five and up. This program meets twice a week for 45 minutes. This will in no way compare to their immersion experience but will serve to help them maintain their language skills through classroom games, stories, activities, and peer interactions.