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What are the benefits or drawbacks of dual language immersion programs?


tjlove November 25, 2008

Kindergarten is a ways off for my daughter, but that doesn't mean I'm not already thinking about it.

In my area there are several language immersion programs, mostly Spanish and Chinese, in the schools that are becoming wildly popular. They are also serving as a way of attracting families back into the public school system here.

I'm definitely considering this option for my daughter, but one concern that I have and have heard from other parents is, does it make it harder for the kids if the second language is not spoken at home?

I'm wondering if any parents have enrolled their kids in a dual language immersion program and what do you think?

Here's a link to an article about these kinds of programs if you want more information:

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sarkay85 November 26, 2008

I don't think it makes a difference at all. My son is a kindergartener in a Spanish immersion program, and his ability to adjust to Spanish at school/English at home seems seamless. In fact, it gives him the ability to 'teach' mom and dad all the new words and phrases he is learning every day. I think that when a second language is introduced at an early age, it is infinitely easier for children to understand and retain it. A good immersion school would have a VERY involved parent community - in my son's school, the teachers are very good (and frequent) communicators, so even though I can't participate very actively in school, I always know what is going on so that we can talk about it at home.


drjohnson November 26, 2008

The immersion program is VERY popular around here also. Every once in a while, you have a kid that has trouble with the second language. Kids with language based learning disabilities often fall into that category.

One of the unintended consequences of the program, is often a gutting of the general education classes. Usually the immersion program is a magnet program. There tends to be a self-selection process that attracts families with higher achieving tendencies. That leaves the other programs performing a lower level. Then a spiral begins because families panic lest their kids be "stuck" in one of those classrooms.

If, for some reason, parent can't get their kids into the immersion program, or their child has trouble with the second language, or they come to the district at a later grade, they consider leaving the district.

In our area, African American families tend to avoid the program, while white families see it as an enrichment opportunity. It has led to an obvious pattern of segregation in our local schools.

None of this is meant to say that the program isn't good for those who get in, but that efforts should be made to avoid the problems I've mentioned. That might include making the general ed classes "special" in some other way.


tjlove December 1, 2008

Thanks for the feedback!


odachimaster December 1, 2008

there are no drawbacks as a parent you make decisions for your child till they become of age to assist you in what is right for them. So, if you are choosing to put your child in that type of program I tend to believe there would be no drawbacks


bakerybabe December 2, 2008

My daughter has attened a french immersion school since pre-K. She is now fluent in 4th grade. Neither my husband nor I is fluent in french, although I did take many years of it in school.

The only drawback I have noticed is that in elementary school, the kids seems behind, academically, and american school. This is probably because of having to learn in two languages and also the challenge of combining standards from american education and the french ministry. I have heard that academics skyrocket in secondary.

Overall, though, I find the two languages a fine training for a facility in languages and, in my daughter, a recognition of root words as so many come from the romance languages. Additionally, my daughter is getting a unique world view at a tender age.

We are committed through 5th grade and will re-evaluate just before middle school as academics step up and the addition of our youngest to the financial picture changes things.


Janette December 2, 2008

Some immersion schools such as the ones in Fairfax County VA have language arts and math in the second language and science and social studies in English. I have heard that immersion kids get to middle school and struggle with English mathematics terminology.

Also dyslexic children typically struggle with second languages.

Of course the biggest benefit is fluency in another language. You can't put a price on that.


LaShawndra777 December 5, 2008

I attended an immersion school in Milwaukee. German Immersion school (82nd Street School) was a challenge, but it was definately worth the effort. It taught reading math and social studies differently than all the other schools, but it gave me and my siblings the extra boost in the area of language recognition. We were able to take any language easily because immersion forces you to learn the language to survive in the class room environment. Sounds a little scarry, but it worked out to our advantage in the end.


Language May 24, 2009

I am facing the same problem 1 month before as my 4th grade daughter feel difficult to manage dual languages. but now she is fluent in English as well as french. thanks to (immersion program) which make it possible.


coolaid September 19, 2009

In Canada we have French Immersion programs in areas of the country that are English Speaking. We also have other language-immersion programs (Mandarin,etc.) depending on the area of the country. These public schools tend to attract highly motivated families who are interested in having their children learn a second language. Most of these families do not speak French at home (there is a separate set of schools for children who are native French speakers). The programs are 100% taught in French for grades 1 - 3 and English is introduced in Grade 4. The research I have read seems to conclude that the French immersion students are a bit behind their English counterparts in English reading and writing at Grade 3 but surpass them in later Elementary school grades. Here is a link to some research as well as some resources for English-speaking parents of French Immersion students:


harmony5 January 12, 2010

I have my two children in Spanish Dual Language and am very happy with the results. To ease my worries, I worked with them at home teaching them to read in English, and their basic math skills before they started Kinder. Once they started kinder, the early start took a lot of academic pressure off of all of us, and the focus was socialization and dealing with structures of school, which is a lot for a 5 year old.

Some materials that I loved using at home before the kids started kinder were fast track phonics for phonics, kinder and 1st grade jump start reading computer programs for blending, and books on tape and CD's from the library for language development for the kids and down time for me in the car or at home. Spectrum reading books k-3 have been great for developing grammar and comprehension skills at home. I always tried to expose and teach the upcoming grade to make it easier on them. Saturday and Sunday mornings work best once they start school once they start school, since their brain is still fresh.

They are now in extra classes learning more languages, and we have also purchased Rosetta Stones at home for their third language. My advise, start early, have faith, be hands on and committed to be your child's other teacher, make sure there is much support at school, I am so happy with my decision. Dual language programs work, if all pieces of the puzzle are actively involved and working (parent, child, teacher, administrator, early learning). My children both love it, and are quick to communicate in their second language when the occasion arises. Good luck!

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