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Dual language immersion schools

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I am in San Jose, California. There are 8-10 public schools offering dual-language immersion programs. Most are Spanish and English; one is Chinese and English. Thus, no matter what language your child speaks as of the beginning of the school year, by the end of Kindergarten, your child would learn to speak both of the languages.

I am near several of these schools (within 1-2 miles). I am about to apply. I am also near a public Montessori school (within 1-2 miles). I think Waldorf or Sudbury might be best for my children, but I am not really sure. The Waldorf and Sudbury schools cost $7,500 to $10,000 per year, and the local Waldorf school -- I've heard-- is uncool, not at all like the hippie/crunchy/natural approaches that I have seen in other Waldorf communities

So, I am going to try the public school lotteries. I am hoping to get my eldest child into River Glen Elementary School. I think that the chances are less than 50%. That is, if the school has 40 kindergarten openings, then the wait list is over 80 positions.

River Glen ES (bilingual)

Gardner Academy ES (bilingual)

Sherman Oaks ES (also bilingual)

What do you think? Should I bend over backwards to get the children into a bilingual public school? Or, should I try to spend a summer in Mexico while they are young? Or, should I overall our incomes so that we can afford private school for three children?

post #2 of 10
Thread Starter 
TWBI (Two Way Bilingual Immersion)

In the TWI program English learners and English speaking students develop bilingualism and bi-literacy in English and Spanish. English is used for a minimum of ten percent of the time beginning in Kindergarten, and the percentage increases annually until both English and Spanish are used equally.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
River Glen is a kindergarten through eighth grade magnet school that offers a Two-Way Language Immersion Program. This California Distinguished School is located in the center of San Jose, in the Willow Glen neighborhood.

At River Glen, all students learn in both English and Spanish. The Two-Way Language Immersion program provides an immersion model for English-speaking students and a maintenance bilingual model for Spanish-speaking students. Our program offers students the unique and exciting opportunity of learning to communicate naturally in two languages, Spanish and English, and of becoming academically successful in two languages. Our goal is to educate students who are bilingual and biliterate and enable them to meet the challenges of a global society. Students from throughout our District are eligible to attend our school, since we are a magnet school. However, they must be bilingual if they enter after first grade. Our school enrollment is approximately 520 students.
post #4 of 10
I am all for bilingual schools! The way the world community and the US is headed, Spanish is really seeming more and more an important asset.

I WISH, I WISH, I WISH I had put my oldest in the Spanish immersion charter school!! Instead I homeschooled for kindergarten, then went for a hands-on learning charter school nearby us for 1st grade. I love his school. But I still regret not going with the immersion school. Once they miss K in those schools, it is hard to get them caught up enough in the language to enroll. :

Now I am trying to decide...do I send the rest of my children to the immersion school, or just keep it simple and enroll them at the same school my oldest is at.

I'd say go for it, go for it, go for it!!
post #5 of 10
My daughter (English native speaker) is in a Spanish-English TWI program in public school, and it has been great. If you even think you might have an interest in it, I would say try for the TWI program. The above poster is correct in saying that they usually don't integrate English speakers in after 1st grade or so. The program is also in high demand where we live, and slots are assigned by lottery - right now sibling preference is still a top criterion, but be sure to check that out if you have other kids you want to be in the same program.

I should add that I am a translator, so I'm extra aware of the importance of being multilingual and the career/life possibilities of this, so I'm a real proponent of TWI. My DH is studying to be an ESL teacher and says that TWI is also the gold standard right now for raising literacy for the long term among low English proficiency students (fancy way of saying it's a good way for Spanish-speaking kids to learn English, too!)

Feel free to PM me with questions about TWI if you want!
post #6 of 10
I live in the San Diego area, and am wondering how the first few weeks of kindergarten were for children in immersion schools. There is one we are considering, but naturally there are some sacrifices involved (commute, not a neighborhood school, etc.) Any comment on the adjustment to the foreign language environment?

post #7 of 10
Well, my daughter was already bilingual in another language, so a foreign language environment as such was familiar to her. Her issue was more with an adjustment to kindergarten in general. Once she got the routines down, she was OK and dealt with the language adjustment. At her school, kids could talk to the kindergarten teachers in whichever language they felt comfortable in, but the teacher would speak mostly Spanish.

Why don't you contact the school and ask how they handle the transition?
post #8 of 10
Hey Caitlin,

I think the other main thing to consider is the overall quality
of the experience of the school, from your child's perspective.

Sure it would be great to know two languages from the beginning,
but if the child is less satisfied there, than that seems worse to me
than learning one language and being happy every day.

Good luck!

-- jimmy
post #9 of 10
i would bend over backwards to get my kid into a dual language school, especially assuming it's an otherwise good school. We have 2 Spanish schools (1 not at all close) and 1 Mandarin school. I wish the Spanish school were better. : DH and I have talked about starting one ourselves; we have friends who did that in another city. The Mandarin school is excellent.
post #10 of 10
It's true that the overall school environment makes a difference, too. Our TWI program is housed in a school with a mix of programs (general education and Afrocentric classrooms). The only problems we've had are with lunchtime and recess arrangements (which affected kids in all of our programs), but we got a bunch of other parents involved and some things were changed for the better.

No matter what school you choose, you need to be involved and ready to step in and help/give the administration a prod when needed!
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