The Berkeley Carroll School

Spanish Partial Immersion

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As part of our mission to offer a globally minded education for our students, all Lower School children participate in a partial immersion program in Spanish.

In our Brooklyn Spanish Immersion school program, a percentage of the classroom teaching each day takes place in Spanish. Teachers use context clues and familiar routines to help students participate and learn the language. Research shows that second language instruction is most effective when taught in content areas where the language becomes necessary as a tool for discovery, and our program is structured around this idea.

For a portion of each day Spanish is used exclusively in our classrooms. Teachers use Spanish in group activities such as songs, games, and read-alouds, as well as during routines that students already know and understand. There is a Head Teacher and an Associate Teacher in each of our classrooms, and all of our Associate Teachers are bilingual. Because all of our Associate Teachers are Spanish-speaking, there are many opportunities to incorporate Spanish into areas of daily instruction in the classroom and in specialist classes.

Through our unique Spanish immersion program, which will evolve as current Lower School students enter Middle and Upper School, Berkeley Carroll students will be launched on a path to bilingualism. The critical thinking, flexibility, and appreciation of diversity and other cultures that are essential to this approach to language learning will enhance future learning in all subject areas.


Why teach Spanish?

Spanish is spoken by nearly 400 million people worldwide and is the official language in 21 countries. Within the U.S., Spanish is the most widely spoken language after English. The Spanish-speaking population in the country has expanded dramatically, creating many opportunities for those who are fluent in both English and Spanish. Spanish is an extremely phonetic language. It creates a foundation from which individuals can learn other romance languages with greater ease and speed.

Why begin teaching Spanish in PreK?

Young children understand intuitively that language is something to explore, to play around with, and to take pleasure in. The joy with which young children explore their first language makes early childhood the ideal time for learning a second language. In addition, very young children have a greater ability to distinguish between phonemes, the smallest units of sound in language. As children get older, the ability to learn new phonemes decreases, making it more difficult to learn a new language. By starting at an early age and immersing children in the language, we increase the likelihood that children will acquire a second language much in the same way that they acquired their first.

What are some of the benefits of learning a second language?

There are many benefits of learning a second language. Studies have shown that knowing a second language has a positive effect on cognitive and intellectual function. As a result, students have greater flexibility in thinking and problem solving. Additionally, speaking another language promotes social and cultural sensitivity and builds community amongst individuals who may not otherwise be able to communicate. Facility in another language also opens the door to a wide variety of career opportunities in the future.

How does learning a second (or additional) language affect children’s language development in their primary language?

Learning a second language can improve a child’s understanding of his or her native language. As a child acquires language structures in the second language, he or she is continuously connecting and comparing these new structures to what is already known

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