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6 questions parents should ask before enrolling their child in a dual language immersion program

It’s March, the month (for many parents) of preschool and kindergarten registration.

And if your family is like ours, schools have begun their bombardment on social media, and flooded your mailbox with advertisements. We have two children in the preschool age group and this month alone we collected 5 mailings from different preschools. (One of which was on the other side of the state!)

Regardless of how many choices crowd your inbox or mailbox, it can be difficult to make a decision, especially if you’re considering a dual language immersion program for your child.

We’re here to give parents a leg up.

Below you’ll find a list of questions to ask of the dual language immersion programs as you consider options for your child. While open houses are a great first step, we’d encourage you to ask for a program tour, which will give you deeper insights into the program and school culture and afford you the opportunity to ask these questions: two dual language immersion models explained

1. What immersion model do you follow?

(specifically: how many instructional minutes are allocated for each language at the
elementary level? the secondary level?) The visual at right explains the research based models our organization supports.

2. How do teachers in the immersion program and the traditional program interact?

What does the school due to encourage students to interact across these programs? Schools can encourage teacher teaming across languages by pairing new immersion teachers with a seasoned English program mentor teachers. Students from different strands can be integrated during specials and school events to encourage friendships across languages.

3. What should I expect regarding the teacher’s proficiency in a second language? What can I expect regarding my child’s proficiency in a second language?

High quality teaching begins with high levels of teacher language proficiency. Programs should be aiming to help students to meet grade level expectations regardless of the language of instruction. Check out our language proficiency demystified resource (part of the informed parent guide) for more information on student language proficiency.

4. How do school leaders raise the status of the minority language in their school?

A school’s culture educates every bit as much as its curriculum. Evidence of cross-pollination between programs can include: FLES programs, school signage, musical programs, communication, and commitment to upholding the integrity of the immersion model.

5. How much immersion specific professional development do you offer?

Most teacher preparation programs are focused on educational pedagogy for a screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-10-12-59-amtraditional classroom, offering even multilingual teacher candidates very little immersion specific preparation. Thus, emerging teachers interested in the immersion setting need support, guidance and additional instruction in order to appropriately craft a learning environment unique to the dual language immersion student.

6. What is your approach to bi-literacy development?

This is a complex issue and the strategies advocated in the blog post linked above are indicators that a school makes bi-literacy an important part of its classroom instruction.

We wish you the best in your search for the best fit preschool or kindergarten for your family. If you have any questions regarding add.a.lingua dual language immersion programs, contact your add.a.lingua partner school’s immersion program director or send us a note at addalingua@addalingua.com.

Filed under: advocacy, dliparents, educators, professional development, Uncategorized

About the Author

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Kristi Van Dyk is an immersion parent who is passionate about offering dual language immersion as an educational option to all schools and districts. The opportunity to raise bi-lingual children, despite her family’s lack of second language proficiency has expanded the dreams she and her husband have for the future of their children. It is this passion for real life change that Kristi brings to all of our new partner schools. Kristi’s educational training began at Hope College in education in the areas of English and Mathematics for elementary. Kristi pursued additional training in brain based curriculum development through the Midwest Brain and Learning Institute as well as an M.A. in educational administration from Western Michigan University. You can find Kristi connecting with new potential partners, sharing experience with new parents and assisting with training of new teachers.

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