Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of frequently asked questions and the corresponding answers.  If you have questions about the Dual Immersion Program, please don't hesitate to contact the Second Language Learner Director, Chad Ransom or Second Language Learner Instructional Coach, Heather Goodrich.  We are always looking for new questions to add to our list! 


Questions
1)  It seems like the students spend all of their time in reading, writing, and math. Are science and social studies sacrificed in the dual immersion program?
2)  We heard a rumor that the dual immersion program requires a substantial amount of additional money each year to operate. Is that true?
3)  Since students in the dual immersion program stay together from Kindergarten through 5th grade are there behavior problems? Do they miss out on getting to know other students in the school?
4)  My English child says he’s really tired of Spanish and sometimes acts out at home by refusing to read his Spanish books. Is this because he’s just tired from being immersed in it all day? What can I do as a parent to support him at home?
5)  My English family is going to a Spanish-speaking country for spring break. How much can I rely upon my DI daughter to help interpret? Given how she’s learned the language, does she even know how to do this? I don’t want to put her under pressure.
6)  Often my child's homework has grammatical errors, in both English or Spanish. But they aren't corrected by the teacher. At what grade level does this become more of a focus for the teacher?
7)  Even though my child has been in the dual program for three years, he still doesn't socialize that much with the dual kids, particularly those who don't speak his native language. I've invited his entire class to birthday parties and such, but not many attend. Any suggestions to connect with families that don't speak our native language?
8)  My child is going into 3rd grade next year. Will they have access to the PEAK (Gifted & Talented) Program if they qualify?
 
Answers
1)  Q It seems like the students spend all of their time in reading, writing, and math. Are science and social studies sacrificed in the dual immersion program?
A

The same content standards are taught in the dual immersion program as are covered in any other classroom. This is true for science and social studies as well as math, reading, and writing. Because of the time spent in learning to read and write in Spanish, there is sometimes less scheduled time during the day for science and social studies as separate subjects. However, the material from those subjects is integrated into other subject areas as a way to use time more efficiently and because research indicates the importance of presenting an interconnected curriculum for students.

2)  Q We heard a rumor that the dual immersion program requires a substantial amount of additional money each year to operate. Is that true?
A
No, after the program has been implemented at a grade level the district spends roughly the same amount of money per students on dual immersion students as any other student. There are some additional initial implementation costs, like teacher recruitment efforts and the initial purchase of materials. However, those costs do not recur at a grade level once it has been established. The 80y dual immersion students would require four classroom teachers, reading materials, access to technology, etc. regardless of if they were in dual immersion or not.
3)  Q Since students in the dual immersion program stay together from Kindergarten through 5th grade are there behavior problems? Do they miss out on getting to know other students in the school?
A
There are many schools in the country that only have two class at each grade (Wilson Elementary is an example). Those schools and our program so far have found that having the same students and families together over many years is actually a great benefit. There is a greater opportunity to build a community and to build off of the work done from year to year.
During the course of each school year, students in the dual immersion program have the same opportunities to interact with students from other classrooms as all other students in the school. They have the same lunch and recess times and they participate in the grade level activities at the school. Over the course of the program, however, it is true that students in the dual immersion program will not have the opportunity to be mixed with other students from their grade level. This is something to consider when entering the program, but most parents have found that their child has access to many other friends through activities and social events outside of school time.
4)  Q My English child says he’s really tired of Spanish and sometimes acts out at home by refusing to read his Spanish books. Is this because he’s just tired from being immersed in it all day? What can I do as a parent to support him at home?
A
The most important thing is that children see their parents view both languages as being equally important. One of the biggest struggles that all dual immersion programs have is elevating Spanish to have equal importance, because English is so dominant in our society. Parents should have the same expectations for Spanish homework that they do for English homework. As a program we are working to standardize our homework expectations across K-5, so that students are not overwhelmed by having homework in both languages. We will hopefully have that work done this spring.
5)  Q My English family is going to a Spanish-speaking country for spring break. How much can I rely upon my DI daughter to help interpret? Given how she’s learned the language, does she even know how to do this? I don’t want to put her under pressure.
A
I would not plan on using your child as an interpreter. Much of your child’s language is still context specific—language learned in a school environment. He/she may not be familiar with the language used in hotels, airports, or grocery stores for example. Interpretation is also a skill that can be very difficult and stressful. Encourage your child to use whatever language he/she is comfortable using. This is a great opportunity to really highlight the opportunity they have had in learning the language and see its usefulness, plus actually experiencing the culture. Anyway you can find for them to be integrated with other Spanish-speaking children just having fun is the best way to help them.
6)  Q Often my child's homework has grammatical errors, in both English or Spanish. But they aren't corrected by the teacher. At what grade level does this become more of a focus for the teacher?
A
Generally only errors that have been taught or are next developmentally for the student will be corrected, especially in written form. There is more validity in correcting errors in speech, but research shows that having a paper full of red marks doesn’t help students progress with the language and can actually inhibit their learning.
7)  Q Even though my child has been in the dual program for three years, he still doesn't socialize that much with the dual kids, particularly those who don't speak his native language. I've invited his entire class to birthday parties and such, but not many attend. Any suggestions to connect with families that don't speak our native language?
A
This is a great question. It is often difficult to bridge the linguistic/cultural/social gap between families...not to mention all of our busy schedules. Here are a couple things you might try. If your child feels comfortable have him/her call to invite a friend from the other language or for a party. Often a phone call is much more effective than written invitations. You might also try to identify a parent you know who is more bilingual that could help bridge the communication gap. The Community Advisory Council for the program has talked about this issue before and one of the suggestions was to identify a couple parents at each grade who would be willing to serve in this capacity. We will try to do that for the next school year. We are also in the process of planning more consistent parent nights next year and we will be attempting to target ways to bridge this gap at those events.
8)  Q My child is going into 3rd grade next year. Will they have access to the PEAK (Gifted & Talented) Program if they qualify?
A
The answer to this question is related to the question about students in dual immersion receiving any additional services (PEAK, reading support, etc.). The short answer is, yes. We do everything we can to make the schedule work for students so that they can attend supplemental services. Primarily this means ensuring they are scheduled for their English time at the same time these services are provided, so that they won’t miss Spanish instruction. Although we have been able to make this happen so far and we anticipate we will be able to continue to make it work, there is always the possibility that the schedule may not always work out.
Regarding supplemental reading or math services, there is an additional consideration. Remember that dual immersion benchmarks in the early grades are slightly different than those for students not in dual immersion. This also impacts students’ need to access supplemental services. We want to ensure that students are not receiving supplementary services that they do not really need, which would entail them missing some part of the dual immersion program.