Anyone Have Any Experience with a Dual Language Learning Classroom?

Updated on February 10, 2010
D. asks from Harvard, IL
8 answers

My son has the opportunity to be in a dual language program next year (and for the 5 years after that) in first grade. This is where half the day is taught in English and half the day is taught in Spanish. I wondered if anyone else had their children in this type of program and what you think of the program as well as how your child is doing in it. We just want to make sure it's the right choice for our son.

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M.M.

answers from Jacksonville on

I personally do not have any experience with anything like that but we have a foreign exchange student and they teach like that in Germany. Her Social Studies and English were taught in English. When she came to me she really knew her English, had a little trouble understanding us at first but now is fluent and doing very well in the high school.
I hope you take the opportunity to learn Spanish as well. Maybe he can then go to Spain or Argentina and be a foreign exchange student himself. What a great opportunity this is for him.

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A.R.

answers from St. Louis on

Hi D.,

That is an awesome experience for your kid, and he will grasp both languages at once.
I have not sent my kids to a dual language learning classroom, but a friend of mine did it with very positive results. I do the same with my kids at home. The kids are taught English and Spanish half of the day each language. My husband and I are bilinguals, we' re fluent in both languages. My 9-year-old kid speaks, reads and writes both languages already, and my youngest understands and speaks both very well both languages. It is said that if you want to teach your children another language, one parent should speak one language and the other should speak the second language. We never did that, the kids have always been taught and spoken in both languages like a dual language, that way they learn to "think" in both languages in a natural thing.

Alejandra
PS The kids are also learning a third language...

K.I.

answers from Spokane on

I am 32 and went to a Bilingual English/Spanish kindergarten in CA. I can not speak to your exact program but I can say I enjoyed it at the time. It made taking Spanish in HS way easier! I am not completely fluent in Spanish, as not all of it stuck but I can get myself around, if need be and could defiantly talk my way out of a jam, if necessary!!
5 years in a row would probably be a wonderful opportunity...

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C.F.

answers from Dallas on

My daughter is currently in Kindergarten and enrolled in a dual language program at her public elementary school. At this age they are taught Science and Social Studies in Spanish for a total of about 25% of their school week devoted to the Spanish Language. The kids in this program have 2 Kindergarten teachers and they co-teach so when it is time for Science and Social Studies, she along with the other native English speakers goes to the Spanish Speaking Teachers room and the native Spanish speakers come to the English speaking Teachers room where they are taught the same subjects but in English.

Each child is partnered up with a Buddy. In my daughters case since she is a native English speaker her buddy is a native Spanish speaker and therefore they learn from each other.

I have nothing but great things to say about this program as especially here in Texas, Spanish is widely spoken and it only benefits her in the future.

Dual Language is completely different from ESL which is geared more for Spanish speaking children to learn English versus the other way around.

Hope this helps and feel free to pm if I can answer any further questions.

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S.X.

answers from Chicago on

my personal opinion is that they developed these classrooms to help those who spoke primary spanish because they were focusing on learning english, they couldn't possible also retain everything they were supposed to learn. so if this is true, why would i knowingly put my kid in the same challenge?

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M.E.

answers from Chicago on

I am a bilingual reading specialist in a predominantly Hispanic school, and I teach in a dual language classroom. My son (who is as white as they come!) understood some Spanish and spoke a little since I exposed him to it since birth, however, since he was old enough to begin a dual language preschool program he has learned so much more. His understanding of the alphabet (in both languages) and pre-reading skills have just exploded as well. Yes, they are exposed to Spanish on tv and from many video games and toys, but they pick up so much more when immersed in a learning environment with the opportunity to dialogue with real people.

The opportunity to learn an additional language (making your child so much more marketable in the future) aside, a dual-language environment provides a boost in learning experiences in the native language as well. Research proves that children who know multiple languages understand their own language better, reading and writing from an earlier age. Also, the connections that they make between languages helps expand their vocabulary and make brain connections that instruction in one language could not duplicate (think about being taught Greek or Latin to learn root words).

From my experience as a native English speaker learning Spanish as a second language, then teaching Spanish, as well as the experience of my son, I would say without a doubt-Go for it! Besides, if it doesn't meet your child's needs, you could always switch later. It could set the child back a bit to switch, but by 4th grade, should be well on track. Hope this helps!

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A.S.

answers from Denver on

YES! DO IT! My DD is in and LOVES it! the amount of Spanish she is picking up is phenomenal.
1. Their brain is wired to acquire language when they are young. Adding a 2nd language is easy for young children.
2. To learn colors, numbers, basic phrases, children's songs, etc is again easy for them at this age. They're already learning colors, numbers etc in English, adding the 2nd language with basics like that is an expectation for them. Trying to learn the same things when you're in middle or high school is much harder since it's just not relevant.
3. There has been a lot of research done on how learning two languages at once can increase cognitive skills, increases speech and verbal acquisition and increase reading abilities.

If none of that is interesting. When your DS hits high school and the cute girl he has his eye on is struggling with her Spanish homework, he can show off his Spanish skills :)

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P.F.

answers from Chicago on

D., I own a foreign language school for youngsters between the ages of 2-12. I would be more than willing to discuss with you whether this is the right choice for your child or not. Please don't hesitate to call me. This is a a HUGE question right now as parents decide whether to enroll in dual language programs. As a foreign language school we obviously support dual language classrooms but we also understand that they are not the right place for all children. If you call me I can help you weigh the benefits and difficulties. I can't put it in an email because it depends on your child.

P., Lil Language Scholars ###-###-####
[email protected]____.com

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