Dual Language Classroom?

Updated on April 07, 2011
H.T. asks from Austin, TX
5 answers

HI..My daughter is in Pre K at a public elementary school.
Next year they will incorporate Dual Language classrooms...I need to decide if I would like my daughter to be in this learning environment.
My daughter's native Language is English and I would love for her to learn Spanish!
Have you had any experience with this? What is your opinion? Do you think this helps or hinders academic learning?
Once in the program, she will be committed to the rest of her elementary years there.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for your input!!
I decided to enroll her in the Dual Language program for the Fall. It actually turned out to be a lottery and she was picked.
I have done some research and am quite excited for her :)

More Answers



answers from Boston on

My HS junior was in a Spanish immersion classroom from kindergarten through fifth grade. It was TERRIFIC for her! In gr.6 we moved her to a private school (for reasons totally unrelated to her immersion experience) where she had no second language until Latin in the 8th grade, then Latin and Spanish in HS. Latin was a piece of cake and she totally maintained her fluency in Spanish despite the break.

Being totally conversational in a second language is such a confidence builder. Plus, for our fast-brained girl who is ADD and was reading by 4 yo, it slowed her down a bit and helped her develop some study skills and an ability to pay attention in a classroom early on (sometimes a challenge for this type of kid -- and her teachers).

Can't say enough good things about it. By the way, it totally did not hinder her English reading and writing abilities. She just got her first SAT scores back and scored over 600 in critical reading and math and over 700 in writing.

It takes a bit of faith on the part of the parent (because, at least in our program, there was no English until 3rd grade, except in classes like Art, Music and PhysEd). You also sometimes need to be patient with well-intended relatives who are concerned about the lack of English. Hang in. It was SOOOO worth it for my daughter!

One last thing: she, who can be a little reserved about new experiences, is going to Nicaragua next month with a service group to work in an orphanage for a week. She can't wait to work with native Spanish speaking children and feels (rightly so) that she'll be able to help her friends who can't speak as well communicate with the kids.

One more last thing :) -- if you're worried about learning subjects other than Spanish, that was a non-issue in my daughter's immersion class. As her kindergarten teacher explained it, the second language is the method of instruction, not the object of instruction. They learn the second while listening and speaking -- not through translation. For example, the first time my daughter ever had a math class in English was when she transferred to a different school in the 6th grade. She now is in the honors track for math in high school and is doing well in pre-calculus as a junior. When she "thought" math for homework or whatever, she did it in Spanish. I remember her science class when she was in first grade; they focused a great deal on weather -- but in Spanish. One of the advantages about starting so young is that vocabulary is still building. They work on acquisition, not translation, so the chatter back and forth is in Spanish. Until you see it in action, it sounds very, very foreign -- but to the kids, it just becomes how school is.

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answers from Detroit on

Are you sure that she will be committed for the rest of her elementary years? I find that very unusual that a school would be that unflexible if a child were struggling in the program.

We are sending our daughter to a full day partial immersion kindergarten next year. She will have 1/2 day in English and 1/2 day in Mandarine (Chinese). This is at our public school. I am very excited about the opportunity. The obvious benefit is that children learn foreign languages easier at a young age. The other benefits, though, include exposure to another culture and greater skills in other areas. Learning another language also improves students' skills with their own language as well as improving their problem-solving abilities and cognitive skills. They are more flexible thinkers. Mainly this is because they learn to pay closer attention and to think harder. I have read/heard that students in these programs do NOT do worse than those in regular classes, but in fact do the same or better on standardized testing. I was told at the school meeting that often children in language immersion programs lag behind those in other kindergarten classes and maybe 1st grade, but after that, they catch up and then zoom ahead. The principal at our school, though, said he has not seen that in his students, that the language immersion kids are at the same level or higher than those in the other kindergarten classes.

I definitely would find out about YOUR school and how well the program works there, but at our daughter's school, it seems great. Out of 82 families in two years, only one has dropped out of the program, and that was only because they felt their child wasn't mature enough for full day kindergarten.

Good luck making your choice. Everyone (teacher friends etc.) that I have spoken to has said, "Go for it!"

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

What an opportunity for your daughter. My daughter has been in dual language since Kinder & she is in 4th grade now. I am hispanic( I do not speak spanish) I know I know but my parents didn't speak to us in spanish they saw no need for it where I grew up. Bummer! So my hubby and I heard about the program & saw it as an opportunity for her, I have seen kids come & go while in the program, they are not obligated to stay in the program if the teacher is not seeing progress they will let you know. My daughter has struggled mainly 3rd grade & now but she has not given up at times she wants to because she is very hard & wants to do well, but teachers are pushing more towards TAKS but that is another story. They pair them up with a spanish speaker and my daughter has learned so much on her own. Can she speak it not yet which is frustrating for her but she can read,write & spell everything is spanish. She will benefit and she is young they absorb everything.



answers from Eugene on

I'd do it in a heartbeat. What a great opportunity. At that age, she has the chance to be bilingual, without an accent. If she can speak Spanish fluently, she will have more job opportunities open to her as an adult, cultural opportunities, too.

My mom is bilingual. She spoke her native tongue until she learned English in school at 5 or 6. It didn't hinder her ability to learn She did well in school, put herself through college and eventually got her masters degree.

My only reservation about a dual language program is how much time is spent with second language learning. I wouldn't want so much time given to language that there is no time for math science or electives like art and music. I'm guessing that the reason students would be committed to the program throughout elementary school is that the teachers spend extra time the first year or two helping all the kids become fluent in both languages, then they will have to catch up in math science and other subjects. So these kids will be on a different track than the rest of the school.



answers from St. Louis on

I would do it!!! It would be great for her to learn a second language and the younger the better!

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