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we’re the center of the world

contributed by: Meghan VanLente

Recently, my 6th grade social studies class and I were exploring the time period of the European Renaissance and the changes in thinking from Medieval times. One of the boys stood up and spun around saying, “We’re the center of the world!” And someone else replied, “No, actually, the sun is!” We all laughed at that misconception, but also agreed that, though the people in the Renaissance realized the earth revolved around the sun, they didn’t really change in their thinking that much – because every new land they found, the explorers claimed it for Europe and proceeded to take slaves and riches from the native people. The students (who are the 6th grade Spanish immersion students at our school) were really quick to point out the continual assumption that power meant acting like a toddler who thinks she is the center of the world.

I think as parents, we do treat our kids as the center of the world at times (and who wouldn’t when they’re so cute all dressed up?). Kids come into the world rearranging our schedule and our focus – and when they become school age, we spend a lot of time thinking about how we can best provide the next level of support. As I had the conversation with my class about the Renaissance and people realizing that they weren’t the center of the world, it made me wonder if I needed that sort of a moment about my own kids.

Looking back to when my oldest son was beginning preschool, I chose Spanish immersion because I wanted the best for my kids – to give them something that has huge benefits in terms of brain development, language development, and cross cultural experiences. These are all of things that I value, highly, for my children. The idea that there would be challenge along the way seemed worth the long-term benefits that my boys would gain through the experience. But in light of my recent discussion, I found myself asking the question – why? Why did I want my child to have this unique education? For what purpose?

If it’s for my child to have the BEST, the most chance for success, the opportunity to become the center of the world – is that a good reason? I know, I know – you’ll begin protesting that of course we want the best for our kids. And I do too. But what I really want is to teach my children that their primary goal is to lay down their lives for others, to sacrifice for others, to love sincerely and fully, to recognize completely that they AREN’T the center of the world, but a part of a greater system to which they can contribute. I know that spending time every day with teachers who have culturally different perspectives, and who grew up in different places, and think about the world differently, and whose comfort language is different than theirs, will ultimately help my kids be more thoughtful, more open, more loving.

Hopefully someday – and I see it already happening with my sixth grade students – my children will use their voice – in two languages – to speak up for those who need refuge, who need care, who need laying down our own needs and rights for, because we have a great calling to serve, and to love, and to bring hope in a hurting world. Immersion education is another opportunity to help my kids become productive citizens not just of the USA, but also of a spiritual kingdom that looks at the world for what we can give, not just what we can get, for what we can share, not just what we can protect.

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FonoCultura: what parents and kids are saying

FonoCultura is an early Spanish reader series that uses author Olga Díaz’s personal stories to bring together authentic language and cultural elements for the benefit of
student learning. Like add.a.lingua, Olga recognizes that language and culture are inextricably linked, and that developing learners ready to engage new perspectives, ideas, and cultures means helping students make this connection. It’s why we’re so excited to partner with Olga to bring the FonoCultura series to educators and families across the nation.

[Check out our interview with Olga here.]

Whether you’re a kindergarten classroom teacher in a Spanish immersion program, a world language teacher working with students exploring foundational skills in reading, or an immersion parent who wants to provide additional texts for your beginning readers in Spanish, these books can make a difference in the lives of early readers.

Take it from a mom

We recently caught up with a mom from NorthPointe Christian School who was eager to share how Fonocultura has impacted her son.

As a parent, it was wonderful watching my child develop his reading skills through the Fonocultura books. He formed a connection with the family of characters and was always eager to get to the next book.

It was less of a challenge to remind him to read each night because he actually wanted to show me his book. The book series offers exposure to culture, practice with language skills, and comprehension questions to gauge understanding.

His reading experience with the Fonocultura books resulted in an enjoyment of reading that will hopefully last a lifetime. We look forward to the continuation of the series!

If you’re interested in viewing samples of books in the FonoCultura series or licensing them for your classroom, start by joining add.a.lingua’s community of immersion educators at Joining our community will provide you with access to license the texts and a host of other resources for your classroom and program.

For those interested, here are a few more details on the FonoCultura series:

FonoCultura, is the first series in the LectoCultura collection and is comprised of thirty texts arranged into three early stage reading levels, A-C.

Each level of ten books provides educators with an engaging narrative through which they are able to capture the interest of students during guided reading instruction by providing them with an authentic context for noticing, becoming aware of and practicing key word features (introduced in add.a.lingua kindergarten instructional frameworks). Written to encourage decoding at the syllabic rather than phonemic level, FonoCultura introduces young readers to a Colombian ranching family and sets the stage for future storylines in subsequent series.

Your license allows you to access:

black and white readers that can be printed, folded and stapled for use during in-class guided reading group instruction or at home individual student practice.

digital color and audio files of each text narrated by a native speaker for use in listening centers or in read-to-self instructional time

teacher’s guide (including syllable and picture cards with and syllable dividers for each text)

If you have any questions about the series, please don’t hesitate to reach out using the form below.

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teacher feature: Silvia Núñez

There are few things we enjoy more than highlighting the amazing work being done by teachers in add.a.lingua partner schools around the country. In this, the 13th episode of our podcast, we’re returning to our teacher feature series to profile 2nd grade Spanish immersion teacher, Silvia Núñez, from Zeeland Christian School.

Join add.a.lingua’s Stephanie Irizarry and Maestra Núñez as they dive into Silvia’s journey to become a Spanish immersion teacher in the U.S. and talk about some of the daily joys and challenges that come along with teaching in a dual language immersion context. Let us know what you think in the comments section at bottom. Enjoy!

Good afternoon! Here I find myself with Maestra Silvia Núñez at Zeeland
Christian School. It [has] a Spanish immersion program, an early-total, one way
immersion program. Silvia is a second grade teacher here, and she’s going to talk with us a little bit about her experiences, not only here in the school but also about her life and what brought her here to [the United States], as well as what attracted her to Zeeland Christian. So, Silvia, thank you for being here with me this afternoon.

Silvia: Thank you, as well, for the invitation, Stephanie.

Stephanie: Of course! I would love to learn a little about your experience because, as a native [Spanish] speaker, you can be heard in your classroom using cultural expressions in dialogue with the students all of the time purely in Spanish. Can you share with us about life when you were very young, and where that love for Spanish and the culture come from?
Sure, of course I can. Thank you, again, for this opportunity to share my experience. I was born in Ecuador and lived there for 25 years until I finished my studies [at the university level] and my husband, Vicente, studied in the United States at that time. After marrying in Ecuador, I came to the United States as he wanted to finish his education here and began
working here. Really, that was the main reason I moved to the United States. Then it was all about being immersed in the culture of North America, and the source of a lot of happiness.

[With respect to] my experience in Ecuador in education, I studied at La Universidad Católica Santiago de Guayaquil in the school of pedagogy and philosophy. When I finished, I began working in a Baptist school teaching in first grade. At first I was an aide for a few months in kindergarten, and then later, I had the opportunity to work in first grade when [the first grade teacher] moved to Europe. At that point, I took her place. That was a very positive experience in Ecuador without knowing that later on I would return to teaching
first grade in the United States and in Spanish!

Stephanie: How lovely, Maestra. Then, you have come to this country with a lot of pedagogical experience, no?

Silvia: By way of my studies, but in practice just a year and a half.

Stephanie: Okay, so the majority of your work as a teacher, the majority of your teaching experience has been in the United States.

Silvia: Yes, practically after arriving to the U.S., I had my family, my children, and I wasn’t working in the school system. When my children grew up and my youngest child, my
daughter, was in preschool, I returned to [teaching] here in the United States [because of] my daughter’s teacher! She invited me to help out in preschool, and afterward, they offered me a job and I began there once again in Delaware.

Stephanie: Wow! Okay, and that was in a Spanish program, too? Or was it an English program?

Silvia: Well, this wasn’t a Spanish program. It was a preschool program for low income families. [In that role] I worked part-time with the students, and part-time with the parents as an outreach person.

Stephanie: Phenomenal! So, it was like you were the link between the school and the home.

IMG_4120.JPGSilvia: Yes, it was another type of connection in Spanish because the Spanish-speaking families who lived in the state of Delaware couldn’t communicate with the school because of the language [barrier], so I was the link between the school and the parents

Stephanie: What an experience! So then, how did you find out about Zeeland Christian, which we know now to be a program that has students moving into the high school levels, right? It’s a program that is very developed [K-8]. How did you find this place? Or, how did this place find you?

Silvia: Well, after living for eight years in Delaware, we moved to Michigan due to my husband’s work. I began to do work as a volunteer at West Ottawa [Public Schools] with my children. So, I worked as a mom inside the school, but I wanted to involve myself more with my children at that time because they were new to the state. Then, after I felt that my children were a bit more established, I found a position at Vanderbilt Academy where I worked as a teacher’s aide in all of the grades from kinder through eighth grade helping students who spoke Spanish. I was the intermediary there, teaching the students in Spanish and English. That was my function. In the middle of that experience, I received a phone call from a friend who shared that Stacey VandenBosch [add.a.lingua co-founder, previously the Zeeland Christian Spanish Immersion program coordinator] was looking for a Spanish teacher and that she wanted to meet me. My friend was the connection through which I began learning about the program at Zeeland Christian. When I found out that the program was Spanish Immersion, I couldn’t believe it! I was so happy and excited because I feel like God cleared the path for me to arrive at this place

Stephanie: So, you’ve had a variety of experiences, not only as a teacher, but also as an aide in classrooms. You’ve seen a great variety of classroom cultures, you’ve seen a variety of cultures not only in Ecuador, but also here in the United States. What are some of the most notable differences, or most obvious differences that you’ve seen in the places you’ve worked?

Silvia: Really, the education that I received at the university is obviously a pedagogy that is nearly of the past. I call it the “old school”, and the most traditional. When I moved to the United States, I saw that much of the United States used that same type of style in the traditional sense in that the teacher taught, and the students listened for hours and hours. But, practically my group at Vanderbilt had the most time with the teacher and I spoke both languages with them. So, the students were enriched a lot, and so was I because they were children with two cultures, one from the United States and the other from their home in which they spoke Spanish. I very much enjoyed getting to know that group of students. In that sense, I feel as though I’ve passed from the 20th to the 21st century, right?

We now see that education has experienced a transition in the United States, lightly and IMG_4121.JPGslowly, but also timely in that we find ourselves in the 21st century wave of education. Education has had its transformations and I’ve had to re-educate myself in many areas, learn new pedagogy, and that’s brought me real happiness and satisfaction because I can now not only share my culture with my students, but I can do it in a new way. [It’s all about] changes in myself, the students, and the culture itself in the United States.

Stephanie: Sure, so it’s a total transformation in that the evolution of education continues as time passes. Thanks so much, Maestra, [for your reflections]. So now, here in your classroom, what calls your attention the most? You mentioned a bit about the importance of learning another language and about another culture, essentially being able to share what you’re learning pedagogically according to what you design and write for your lessons, but can you talk to us a little bit about the personal aspect as well? [Tell us about] that whole idea of sharing your native language and culture with this group of over twenty children [each day]?

Silvia: The experience has been fantastic! Being that I’ve been a part of the pilot group of early-total, one way immersion here at Zeeland Christian School, it was an opportunity to live the evolution of the program and learn together and share ideas in order to reach students in different ways…not only with the language, but with the culture, and with the curriculum that is also important. I’ve come to realize that I’ve been able to remember my own education of learning English and all of the shortcomings or errors that can happen based on how I learned in Ecuador. When I arrived here [in the United States] I didn’t understand hardly anything that was spoken to me [in English], but I understood a lot of grammar and understood when I read. That’s when I realized that that was the way language was taught in my country, and I didn’t want to do the same with my students here. The pedagogy is now so very alive and new that, for example, the student, I now know, needs to hear a word used around 70 times [in context] in order to make it a part of their vocabulary. So, just imagine how much we need to do and the resources we need to have in order to make sure that students can learn new vocabulary. And, that’s even with young students who have stupendous, fabulous memories! It’s [important to have them] immersed 100% in order for the program to be successful and for the students to really own and love the language. It’s a great opportunity for them to learn not only the language, but also the culture and develop their cognitive capabilities. So, it’s a real mix of so many different components so that students feel successful in their understanding of their new language.

Stephanie: Without a doubt. Just right there you mentioned the three goals, really, of these types of programs: the acquisition of the language, the academic/cognitive development, and the idea of cultural appreciation. You also mentioned a variety of resources that one needs to use, teacher resources — practices and techniques that we teachers use. You also use the add.a.lingua frameworks that are part of what you implement in the program. Can you describe how the implementation of this resource manifests itself in the classroom, and how it fosters and accentuates what you’ve already described as being important relative to culture and language?

Silvia: Absolutely. In fact, I think that [the add.a.lingua frameworks] are the backbone of the immersion program. You need to know the language framework very well, study it and make it your own so that you can share it with the students in order for them to make it their own. So much so, that the students are able to think about their language when they are studying other subjects like mathematics or Bible. In addition, it helps them make constant connections to the language objectives that we have each week. The add.a.lingua frameworks that we utilize in this program is the base; it’s what helps us connect everything, not only the new words that they use, but also grammar components, etc. That helps the student maintain thinking on the language focus at the same time they’re focusing on content goals.

Stephanie: Okay, [you see it as important] so that the student is aware [of language] not only during language arts, but also during other subjects of the day, math, science, in order for them to become more involved in the content, in their studies.

Silvia: Sure, sure. They can “speak mathematics” in Spanish. To be able to do that [successfully], they need to use specific language techniques. They’ve got to be able to ask questions and utilize academic vocabulary associated with mathematics in Spanish so that as they move forward, they’re growing in Spanish at the grammatical level. And, content area curriculum is included so the student can connect across those content areas of study. This, for me, is the foundation. In fact, for all of us as teachers, I feel that it’s such a help that we are able to work with this [add.a.lingua] framework from week to week.

Stephanie:  Okay, and that’s so that there’s a real language focus not only from week to week but throughout the school year.

Silvia: All year. And from week to week there are connections to be made. That’s the good thing. [It’s good for] student development because week after week, they have the base then for what’s coming next. The student moves forward, growing in sequence while simultaneously expanding the vocabulary. The [add.a.lingua framework] is very, very important.

Stephanie: Thanks so much. Well, [as we wrap up], I would imagine that there are many teachers or future teachers who are hearing us right now online, and maybe they’re thinking, “Oh, what should I do? Which way do I go with respect to the field of education? I’m going to become a teacher, but what am I going to do? Will I use both of my languages, or not?” So, from your perspective, what would be your best recommendations surrounding those who might become teachers, especially in the context of immersion for their futures?

Silvia: One of my pieces of advice in this moment would be for native speakers, as well as those who are considering entering an immersion program would be to first, really take the time to immerse yourselves in Spanish speaking culture. It can be anywhere, but it’s important to have that contact to enrich one’s understanding of culture.  Second, take the time to grasp what it’s like to speak solely Spanish because that’s a foundational practice in the classroom — being aware and intentional so that the class is truly 100% in Spanish so that students can talk in Spanish, speak, connect with one another, and socialize in Spanish. As a teacher, if you are not a native speaker, that would be an important foundational piece. Additionally, for a native speaking teacher, they might have the culture, but I would propose that they continue to be learners and learn even more! In fact, I have had to do that as well! I’ve needed to learn more about  my country, my culture and traditions that we have in order to be able to share it with my students. That’s because we want for it to be solid, and not something fictitious. I do it with stories and photographs, and to add that dynamic and [level of] happiness in the classroom helps students explore the cultural information in a positive way. Finally, teachers should be always ready to learn because education continues evolving, and they should always be involved with a language [framework] because studying that and recognizing its importance is necessary in order to be able to manage it easily in the classroom.

Stephanie: Thanks so much, Maestra Núñez, truly. What you do here with your students is something magical, so thank you for sharing just a little bit of your time.

Silvia: Thank you very much for the opportunity!

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freedom and control

contributed by: Cara Wickstra

Freedom and Control. In parenting, I’m continuously trying to find the balance between freedom and control with my kids. There’s the obvious power struggles that rise and fall during different stages of growing up. But there’s also the day-to-day freedom and control dance that goes by a different name: “freedom” becomes privileges and responsibilities, while “control” translates as restrictions and consequences. I mention this struggle between freedom and control because I also feel it in regards to my children’s education, and specifically, the immersion program.

I’m an only child, so I think that categorizes me with the personality of an uber oldest child. While I like to think I’m a mellow version of an only child, I still feel that pull of anything less than 100% as failure. (I’m hoping someone can relate, otherwise I sound a little crazy.) When I feel like I’ve failed, even at cooking dinner, I take it to heart more so than I should. Jesus helps me overcome this unrealistic vision of myself, but it is still a battle. I cringed at the thought that my fear of failure would echo into the performance of my school-age kids.

And then came Mandarin immersion.

In Mandarin immersion, I don’t have the battle between freedom and control because there’s nothing I can control about my child’s achievement. I’ve already made the choice to do something well beyond what I’ve ever done. This is a step into the unknown as I relinquish my “control” of my child’s schoolwork into the hands of, surprisingly enough – my child. My sons and daughter linamadswill do their best without my edits to homework to make a story sound better. I will have the opportunity to see what they can construct all by themselves and that’s exciting to me.

At first, I was nervous about this freedom from control at school and in parenting.  But now I see it as a beautiful thing and I am so thankful.  I am able to be present in their lives, encourage them to do their best and listen to them read a language I cannot understand. Knowing that if they have a question, they can ask the teacher and learn how to ask for what you need, not just depend on Mom and Dad for answers.

Even though Mandarin immersion seemed intimidating at first, I now view it as a breath of fresh air. It is so exciting to dream of the possibilities that await these kids whose accent sounds like they’re from China, but they look like they’re from the Netherlands. I am so glad I didn’t let my fears or need for control turn me away from this incredible opportunity.

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add.a.lingua workshops designed FOR and BY dual language immersion educators

add.a.lingua believes in a K-12 education future characterized by multilingual learning…and we never tire of sharing how quality dual language immersion (dli) education transforms the lives of not only students, but also of their families. (Check out Maria Alvarado Ibarra’s story.)

Though we’ve had the privilege of learning from stories like Maria’s because of our long-term partnerships with add.a.lingua dli programs/schools, we also recognize that such partnerships may not always be possible given certain school contexts, timeframes and goals.

Regardless, we’re still on the same dli education journey–a journey that might also be called a mission–to promote: workshops designed FOR and BY dual language immersion educators

Our new initiative, add.a.lingua, reflects this realization and offers those on the journey a menu of dli-specific workshops based on our conversations with committed dli administrators and educators LIKE YOU.

our approach

The workshop topics, resources, and planning meetings have evolved from our former roles as dli administrators and educators as well as from our experiences working with hundreds of dli teachers and leaders across states (and countries). But, we are FLEXIBLE! Our team wants to design professional learning experiences that meet your unique needs.  

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetSo, though the content of each workshop might change based on your guidance, how we facilitate won’t. You can rely on us to design workshop experiences filled with multiple opportunities for reflection and dialogue. Because we KNOW that EVERY dli educator wants to understand how to focus on instruction to positively impact student learning, we honor the knowledge and experience that exists in the room.

To get the full impact, our workshops are best experienced over two days, but we can work with your schedule to help you meet your goals.

what educators are saying

“One more thing about the add.a.lingua training that I think is unique, I feel like it is very reflective. I feel like we are presented with information, and then we are allowed time and space to integrate the new knowledge into our own thinking…add.a.lingua is very intentional about giving us time to reflect and integrate the knowledge into our practice, so I appreciate that.” – Christa, middle school immersion teacher

“add.a.lingua is an investment in professional development, and one that is paying off in student achievement.” – Dr. Brian Davis, Superintendent, HPS

let’s talk

Whether you’re a leader or teacher with extensive experience or someone new to the field, we’d love to hear from you. Just fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch.

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introducing: the informed parent guide

family-photoWe’re an immersion family, so now what? If you’re asking that question, we’re here to help.

Our journey as an immersion family began when our eldest daughter was in preschool.

We experienced all of the doubts, the fears, and the concerns that your typical parents experience as they make this leap into a radically different form of education. Fortunately, we also had add.a.lingua by our side during this time of transition.

Because I (Kristi) work for add.a.lingua, I had the benefit of sitting shoulder to shoulder with experts as they patiently answered my questions. I now get to work with other parents just like us, who need access to that same expertise.

One key tool we’ve designed for interested parents is the Informed Parent Guide. The guide is full of resources that informed parent guide image.pnghelp address common questions and give parents a solid grasp of the goals of quality immersion education.

As Steve and I embark on the next phase of immersion parenting (English integration starts for our first born in late spring!), we look forward to digging in to resources related to the secondary continuing phase.

We encourage you to join us by subscribing to, and checking in with, the Informed Parent GuideThe resources have been crafted with parents in mind, and will be helpful to parents at any phase in their immersion journey. Enjoy, and feel free to leave feedback on how we can make this tool even better.


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introducing: the informed educator guide

When I began teaching in an early-total, one way Spanish immersion program in 2006, I already had a wide variety of experiences teaching in other contexts:

  • teaching core content in Spanish at a public school in Mexico
  • serving as an elementary world language teacher with 100% of my class periods in Spanish
  • ESL summer migrant programs

Those years were the greatest, most learning-filled times of my life. And each of those experiences informs my practice and helps me make a difference in the lives of children as part of my professional toolkit.

Yet, when I began teaching first grade Spanish immersion in an early-total, one way program…I still had questions. Lots of them.

threefold_goal_websiteI studied what research I could find, but it was next to impossible for me to become an expert overnight. After school was absorbed by the day-to-day demands of my role, and my focus had to be on my students in real-time.

My generous colleagues provided historical information about our program, and from them, I gathered new learning. I took advantage of as many learning opportunities as I could. Still, we all wanted to be 100% certain that our practice matched what the field said was best for facilitating students’ learning toward the three-fold goal of dual language immersion education.

ENTER: add.a.lingua informed educator guide

With dedicated, busy(!), and information hungry immersion teachers in mind, we’ve developed the FREE informed educator guide. Whether your school partners with add.a.lingua or not, we know all teachers have a desire to learn more, know more, and try out new things. The informed educator guide is designed to help you do just that.

The resources we’ve included (program design informed-educator-guideinformation, language proficiency demystified, the checklist, terminology, as well as multiple instructional tools) are ALL resources that I wish I would have had access to when I began my work in the immersion realm.

Everything we’ve included in the guide would be GREAT to use at a PLC meeting for processing and reflection, or at a staff meeting for calibration of practices, values, and beliefs. We hope you enjoy exploring them with your teacher teams!

If after you explore the informed educator guide, you’d like to go further and talk about additional resources or professional learning opportunities, we’re happy to start that conversation. Feel free to leave us a note using the form below and our team will be in touch with you shortly.

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Trusting the model

contributed by: Monica VanderZwaag

When we started in Spanish Immersion, we were so excited but also hesitant about the process.  Our kids started in preschool, where parent helpers were required, so every few weeks one of us would go in and participate in the class.  We had no idea what the teachers were saying!  The kids, however, rolled with it so well.  In one particular class,  we noticed that when the teacher brought the puppet out it meant the puppet would be speaking English.

Even at the beginning of our kids’ schooling, we saw that the curriculum would be the same as in the English classes, but we wondered if they were catching on. We read everything and went to all the information meetings. We were often reminded that we needed to keep forging ahead, trusting what our children learned in Spanish would transfer over to English.

To support their language skills, in Kindergarten, before the end of the Christmas break, the teacher sent an email to all parents stating that she forgot how to speak English while in Mexico over break.  So, from now on only Spanish would be spoken.  It was a creative way, early on, to let both students and their parents know that the best way to learn to speak a language is to be immersed in it and speak it.

In Kindergarten, our oldest daughter, Gina, didn’t seem to be picking up what we thought she should be. We met with her teacher and an add.a.lingua staff member, and, once again, we were assured that if we stuck it out she would sort it all out. In 1st grade ginaGina was given extra one-on-one support in Spanish reading. At that point, we were uncertain we had done the right thing in keeping her in the Spanish program. Would she be struggling as much if we had made the decision to put her in the English program in Kindergarten? Her 2nd grade teacher ended up being the teacher who provided her extra one-on-one reading support. I remember the phone call when the teacher called to discuss the additional support Gina needed to be successful and I was distraught that she wasn’t where she was supposed to be.

Enter 3rd grade. For the first time, Gina hit the reading milestone! 3rd grade!  It took her until 3rd grade for it all to click. The thing we are most amazed about – she didn’t struggle to read in English. Everything we had been told about trusting she would learn would transfer over to English was true.

Last week our family went to a dinner with mostly Spanish speaking families. We decided to play Uno after dinner with another family, and they didn’t know how to play. Gina paired up with the 5th grade girl and rose to the occasion, translating how to play not only to the 5th grade girl but also to her parents. What a gift to be able to meet that family where they were and for her to be able to bridge the language gap so we could all work together to play a game and connect with one another.

When asked if we would do anything different, the answer is, “no.” Was it always easy and black and white? Nope. As parents, did we spend many nights discussing what we should do when things didn’t always seem to go the way we thought they should? Yes. But to see her grow and learn, as well as use her Spanish skills to bridge gaps and connect in ways we can’t, confirmed for us that trusting her teachers, and the language acquistion process was the right choice.

To learn more about add.a.lingua’s two supported immersion models, check out the understand page.

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introducing author Olga Díaz, and FonoCultura

IMG_0461.JPGAt add.a.lingua we spend a lot of time with our partner schools. Recently, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to stop by NorthPointe Christian School in Grand Rapids, Michigan with one purpose (which, I’ll get to in a moment). But, before exploring it, it’s important for me to first mention how I was initially impacted by what I saw, heard, and felt upon entry to the school. From my first step into the building, I could tell: “immersion lives here”. (Those of you who know immersion programs know that this first impression isn’t always the case!)

The way the school has ensured that there is signage in both the immersion language and English to reflect both program strands in the building was intentional, purposeful, and effective. The way that the immersion students (including the preschoolers!) used Spanish beyond the classroom was evidence of the add.a.lingua Immersion Language Only Timeline & Policy in action. The student work in the immersion language displayed in the hallway articulated unity. I could go on for days about the shining stars I saw in my short time there.

immersion inspires an author

I walked with Maestra Olga Díaz, author, reading specialist, and former point person for the program, to her small classroom where she introduces children to the wonders of reading on a daily basis. As we talked, she shared that she is inspired by her students. And she’s inspired by the Spanish immersion program that she’s seen grow at NorthPoint
over time.  Early on, Olga saw two needs as she worked with young beginning readers:

  1. They needed certain access to a wider variety of authentic texts in the Spanish language that met their budding reading levels.
  2. They needed to ensure appropriateness of the themes in the text to foster a bond with the culture of the language that they were learning.

Instead of merely admiring these problems, she tackled them head-on. Olga developed the FonoCultura series for the students that served these two needs. She asked her husband to generate illustrations. Her daughter read the books aloud to put them in audio recordings. Her daughter read the books aloud to put them in audio recordings. And the content of theFonoCultura TW.png stories? Yes! They’re stories from Olga’s life growing up in Colombia!

The books she’s created align with add.a.lingua’s frameworks, and classroom teachers are using them throughout her building. Parents are even talking about these books as being an obsession for their kids. (We’ll share with you what parents and students are saying about the books in an upcoming blog post!)

While these books align with the add.a.lingua frameworks for our partner schools, they’re available for anyone who is working with beginning readers in the Spanish language. Check them out by becoming a member of our immersion educator community at, and be sure to listen to the interview with Olga. We’re certain you’ll be just as excited about FonoCultura as we are.

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we’re full of thanks this holiday season



¡Feliz Navidad! /  圣诞快乐  /  Merry Christmas!

As we wrap up the year, we want to express our heartfelt thanks to our many dedicated partner schools. We’re grateful to be on mission together, giving more and more children the gift of multilingualism, and we look forward to growing with you in 2017.

To our academic advisory and educational leadership boards, what can we say? You’re the best. Thanks for your guidance, and we’re excited to continue our work together on behalf of quality multilingual education for ALL students.

To the many compatriots who’ve encouraged us along the way this year–we wish you full stockings and fuller hearts.

Tenacious immersion parents (you know who you are), thanks for taking the leap, for hanging in, and for advocating for your child and immersion program. We doff our stocking caps to YOU!

Our team will be taking some time between Christmas and New Year’s Day to enjoy the splendor of the season with our families, and to take stock of all the good that 2016 brought our way. We hope you can do the same. Enjoy the holidays with your loved ones, and we’ll see you in the new year!

with gratitude,

team add.a.lingua