Language Immersion FAQ
What is Immersion Learning?
Immersion students acquire the necessary language skills to understand and communicate about the subject matter set out in the Common Core and Essential Standards for each grade level. They follow the same curricula, and in some instances, use the same materials (translated into the target language) as those used in the non-immersion schools in CCS.
Why is immersion an effective second language model?
A great deal of research has centered on second language acquisition in various school settings. Over the past 30 years, due in large part to the success of immersion programs, there has been a shift away from teaching language in isolation and toward integrating language and content.
Why should I consider enrolling my child in an immersion program?
Immersion programs are the fastest growing and most effective type of foreign language program currently available in U.S. schools. Most immersion students can be expected to reach higher levels of second language proficiency than students in other school-based language programs. Becoming bilingual opens the door to communication with more people in more places. If you want your child to be armed with the skills necessary to interact competently in an increasingly interdependent world community, then you should consider the language immersion program at Owen Elementary School. Children are language sponges, and numerous studies have shown that immersion at an early age in a foreign language is the best way to ensure future fluency.
What is less commonly known is that such immersion also increases vocabulary growth in the native language and enhances overall cognitive development. Put simply, children who experience immersion learning acquire distinct advantages that go far beyond fluency in a second language. Immersion learners benefit cognitively, exhibiting greater nonverbal problem-solving abilities and more flexible thinking than their non-immersion peers. It has been suggested that the very processes learners use to make sense of the teacher’s meaning in a second language make them pay closer attention and think harder. These processes, in turn, appear to have a positive effect on cognitive development.
More than three decades of studies consistently have shown that immersion students achieve as well as, or better than, non-immersion peers on standardized measures of verbal and mathematics skills administered in English. Owen Elementary School students learn the North Carolina curriculum while immersed in a second language. The goal of Owen Elementary School is to produce students who are completely bi-literate and can perform at or above grade level in English and in a second language.
What are the effects of immersion education?
A growing body of research on immersion education has shown that immersion students consistently meet or exceed academic expectations in the following areas: Second language skills: Immersion students by far outperform students in traditional foreign language classes. They are functionally proficient in the immersion language and are able to communicate according to their age and grade level. Immersion students build a strong second language base upon which to continue moving toward full proficiency and to develop proficiency in subsequent languages. English language skills: In the early years of English instruction, there may be a temporary lag in English reading and writing skills. By the end of elementary school, however, immersion students do as well or better than students in English-only classes. Content areas: Immersion students achieve in academic areas as well as students in English-only programs. Immersion students have well developed problem-solving skills, which leads to consistently high achievement in mathematics beginning at an early age. The achievement of immersion students in other content areas is at least equal to students in English-only programs. Cultural sensitivity: Immersion students are more aware of and show positive attitudes towards other cultures.
How will my child understand what to do in the classroom?
In the beginning stages of learning the language the teachers will use exaggerated hand and facial expressions to illustrate what they are saying. Keep in mind that many, if not all, the other children in the classroom will be in the same position. The teachers use songs, stories, and activities to help build vocabulary and an understanding of the second language. Language learning is carefully structured to ensure that instruction is comprehensible.
What can I do to support my child’s immersion experience if I don’t speak the second language?
Like all parents, parents of children in immersion programs should maintain an active role in their children’s education by providing experiences that help develop their English language skills and enhance their cognitive and affective development. Parents should read with children daily in English and engage them in activities where they need to apply what they are learning in class. Parents should also communicate with the teachers on a regular basis about their children’s’ academic, social, and language development. They should become well informed about immersion education, make a commitment to keep their child in the immersion program, and support their children’s use of the immersion language outside the school context, for example, by providing reading materials in the immersion language at home.
Be prepared for the fact that your child will initially be confused and even frustrated. They will likely be very tired at the end of the day, as language learning is cognitively demanding. This reaction is very normal for first- time immersion learners and can last from two weeks to two months depending on the child’s age and basic language ability. Children are generally very resilient and will soon feel comfortable with the second language.
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Published by David Lee on August 10, 2016