Spanish Partial Immersion
As part of our mission to offer a globally minded education for our students, all Lower School children participate in our Spanish program every day. The goal of our Spanish program is that our students will be launched on a path to bilingualism.
In our PreK and Kindergarten Partial Immersion Spanish program, a percentage of each day takes place in Spanish. All of our Associate Teachers are bilingual in Spanish and English and they use context clues and familiar routines to help students learn the language. Children participate in many group activities in Spanish including songs, games, and read alouds, and the language is woven throughout all curricular areas. Research shows that second language instruction is most effective when taught in content areas where language becomes necessary as a tool for discovery, and our program is structured around this idea.
Students in grades 1-4 receive instruction in Spanish from Bilingual Spanish teachers who push into the classrooms. They learn and practice foundational grammatical skills as well as both basic conversational vocabulary and vocabulary related to thematic units. These units are taught through games, songs, visuals, and an approach called Total Physical Response. Our Spanish curriculum has been designed so that students can practice language skills involving real life situations and, as in PreK and Kindergarten, many classroom routines and transitions are conducted in Spanish.
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?
- Why begin teaching Spanish in PreK?
- What are some of the benefits of learning a second language?
- How does learning a second (or additional) language affect children’s language development in their primary language?
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.
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.
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.