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#1 of 22 Old 11-14-2008, 04:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am not interested in discussing the merits of preK education. I am a full time student and unable to spend the entire day with my son so he must attend preschool. Daycare is not an option.

We are in the process of applying to two schools for the 2009-2010 school year. One school is AMI Montessori and the other is a Foreign Language Immersion Program.

Every other day is spent with the Foreign language teacher and the other days are spent with the English speaking teacher. A child who enters the program at the age of 3 is able to converse in their instructed language by the time the child enters the first grade.

I would like to know the pros and cons of foreign language immersion programs geared towards preschool aged children. This is an established school with an IB diploma program and graduates who attend higher ranking colleges and universities.

Has anyone else enrolled their 3 or 4 year old in a foreign language immersion program?

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#2 of 22 Old 11-14-2008, 06:28 PM
 
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I have not but I am not aware of any downsides. There would be a temporary deceleration in vocabulary acquisition in the native tongue that is of no particular consequence, unless you're doing competitive IQ testing. I would think you would increase the chance that your child would move abroad as an adult. If you don't know the second language, they may be able to put more over on you with their cohorts in a few years. I'm just pulling stuff out of my arse now. It's a good gift to give a child, to let them learn another language in these years.
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#3 of 22 Old 11-14-2008, 06:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your response. If DS is accepted to this school and we like it we would not have to endure competitive IQ tests unless we do not like the school. I am not too concerned with a a deceleration in vocabulary. Just this week he was placed in a PK3 class because he is ahead of the ES2 and the ES3 (ES=Early Start) children.

I am aware that children who are raised bilingual do have fewer words in their vocabulary pertaining to each individual language than a child who only speaks one tongue.

I am sure that DS will probably talk about me in Spanish or French in a few years if he is accepted, but hopefully nothing sinister....

DH is adamant that he learn Spanish, but there are fewer slots int he Spanish program. Even if we chose French a 3 language is added during the 6th grade year.

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#4 of 22 Old 11-15-2008, 12:06 AM
 
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I don't know the pros and cons in regards to preschool but I can tell you that if I had this option for my DC, I would send them to a foreign immersion preschool. I speak French and German and think the earlier they are exposed to a foreign language, the better. I think it is a great idea.
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#5 of 22 Old 11-15-2008, 12:58 AM
 
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one of the very important things to look at a foreign language school is if the teacher has good pronunciation, if they don't, that will be a very bad influence on the kid at that young age.
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#6 of 22 Old 11-15-2008, 02:10 AM
 
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I am aware that children who are raised bilingual do have fewer words in their vocabulary pertaining to each individual language than a child who only speaks one tongue.
Nope, not true. Even the idea that speaking will be delayed has, from what I've read, proven to be false.

I think I would go and observe the classroom. What I'd want to see is evidence of comprehensible input.

Personally, I think Spanish is a much more useful language if you are living in the US-- because it is common, it means more opportunities to make the language meaningful and for practice, which means you'll have a better chance to have a successful language learner.

And don't worry. My mom, sister, and I are all fluent in Spanish. My dad was not. We never used Spanish to talk negatively about him!

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#7 of 22 Old 11-15-2008, 09:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't know the pros and cons in regards to preschool but I can tell you that if I had this option for my DC, I would send them to a foreign immersion preschool. I speak French and German and think the earlier they are exposed to a foreign language, the better. I think it is a great idea.
Thank you for your response. Dh and I both feel this way, I hope and pray that DH is accepted.

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#8 of 22 Old 11-15-2008, 09:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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one of the very important things to look at a foreign language school is if the teacher has good pronunciation, if they don't, that will be a very bad influence on the kid at that young age.


I will definitely keep this in mind!

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#9 of 22 Old 11-15-2008, 10:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Nope, not true. Even the idea that speaking will be delayed has, from what I've read, proven to be false.

I think I would go and observe the classroom. What I'd want to see is evidence of comprehensible input.

Personally, I think Spanish is a much more useful language if you are living in the US-- because it is common, it means more opportunities to make the language meaningful and for practice, which means you'll have a better chance to have a successful language learner.

And don't worry. My mom, sister, and I are all fluent in Spanish. My dad was not. We never used Spanish to talk negatively about him!
Thanks for responding. I will check out the site you posted.
While we will choose Spanish as our first choice I would rather he earn French if the choice is French or denied admission. There are only 11 spots in the Spanish Program and 22 spots in the French program. While Spanish is the 2nd most spoken language in Houston, French speakers are plentiful.

A second foreign language is added in 3rd grade and a third language is added in the 6th grade. DS would have to learn Spanish (a parental requirement) and possibly Arabic.

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#10 of 22 Old 11-17-2008, 12:56 AM
 
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My 3-year-old is in a Spanish immersion preschool (all Spanish, all the time) five days a week (half-days last year, full days this year - I work full time). He loves it and seems to have learned a lot. He realized pretty early that my husband and I don't speak Spanish, which is finds highly amusing. He can occasionally be a bit patronizing when he has to explain something to me, but being condescended to by one's 3-year-old is pretty funny, in my opinion.
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#11 of 22 Old 11-17-2008, 02:08 AM
 
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We are living overseas so my DD is in a "local" Arabic-speaking preschool (with lessons in both English and Arabic). She started at 3 and is now 4. It is a little bit different because the kids around her speak Arabic already so it is not just the teacher (so even deeper immersion). Within one year, she became relatively fluent in speech and is now learning to write it a bit. It has been amazing to watch her soak up the second language like a sponge. And it has not slowed down her English speaking skills at all. She happily switches back and forth between the two languages. Once in a while I have to remind her that we do not understand Arabic when she peppers her speach with different words and now translates some words for us. Last night I even caught her mumbling in Arabic in her sleep! We are hoping that once we move back to the States, we will be able to find some way for her to keep up the Arabic language as it would be a shame if she forgot it all...

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#12 of 22 Old 11-17-2008, 03:53 AM
 
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We have a simmilar experiance as Amma Mama. We speak English at home and the girls go to preschool in Hebrew. My twins have langauage delays and they both picked up pretty fluent Hebrew within 3 or 4 months. Rivka just started preschool this year (she's 3) and she's aleady understands everything and speaks pretty well. She has been understanding everything for at least a month or so. I say go for it !

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#13 of 22 Old 11-17-2008, 03:55 AM
 
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Oh, and I know Spanish is much more useful in TX, but there is plenty of need for French! I think most Europeans learn English & French before Spanish. In a global economy, I don't think he'll lose by speaking either language. It might not be as practical for your small geographic area, but there are many many French speakers in the world!!

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#14 of 22 Old 11-17-2008, 07:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for the responses. I do hope that DS is accepted. You mamma's living abroad are quite fortunate to be able to provide your children with the experience.

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#15 of 22 Old 11-17-2008, 09:30 PM
 
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Not sure how relevant it is to your decision, but I was in a bilingual education program for 5 years (k-4) and I loved it. I never found it troublesome to balance my native and second language, and developed a life-long love for language and expression. I've also found it easier to pick up additional languages than I might have otherwise. My only caution might be that there can be a cultural difference in (non-American) instructors' attitudes about how young children should behave in class. Just something to keep an eye on.

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#16 of 22 Old 11-18-2008, 04:33 AM
 
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There is quite a bit of evidence to support that children immersed in other languages before the age of 7 learn the other language(s) **natively**. It actually changes the structure of their brain's development and will make all sorts of mental processes easier for their entire lives. They do not need to translate the 2nd (or 3rd) language from their native language as you or I would, they learn it just like they learned and are learning English...just by being around it. I've read several books that touch on this subject ("Your Child's Growing Mind" by Jane M. Healy, PhD., "Einstein Never Used Flash Cards" by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek PhD & Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, PhD to name just a few!) but most of what I've just said came from a book entitled "Magic Trees of the Mind" by Marian Diamond, PhD & Janet Hopson. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the nitty gritty of learning and brain development.

Either way, I'd love to know where you are located. I looked high and low and finally gave up on finding an immersion preschool or kindy program for our daughter here in San Diego and in a Chicago suburb area. You have ~~ no idea ~~ how much this killed me. If anyone knows of any in San Diego that I may have missed, please post of PM me!!

Also, what languages do you have to choose from? You may want to consider choosing the most difficult language that you will be able to continue his involvement in. Spanish, French, Italian and the like are considered more simple languages. More complex languages like Mandarin, Farsi, Arabic, etc. would give your child an incredible leg up, not to mention the improved brain development implications (that the book describes in detail). And if you look, you might be surprised to find language groups, centers and classes for these more difficult languages that your son could continue involvement in throughout his school years to keep up on the language.
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#17 of 22 Old 11-19-2008, 12:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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There is quite a bit of evidence to support that children immersed in other languages before the age of 7 learn the other language(s) **natively**. It actually changes the structure of their brain's development and will make all sorts of mental processes easier for their entire lives. They do not need to translate the 2nd (or 3rd) language from their native language as you or I would, they learn it just like they learned and are learning English...just by being around it. I've read several books that touch on this subject ("Your Child's Growing Mind" by Jane M. Healy, PhD., "Einstein Never Used Flash Cards" by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek PhD & Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, PhD to name just a few!) but most of what I've just said came from a book entitled "Magic Trees of the Mind" by Marian Diamond, PhD & Janet Hopson. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the nitty gritty of learning and brain development.

Either way, I'd love to know where you are located. I looked high and low and finally gave up on finding an immersion preschool or kindy program for our daughter here in San Diego and in a Chicago suburb area. You have ~~ no idea ~~ how much this killed me. If anyone knows of any in San Diego that I may have missed, please post of PM me!!

Also, what languages do you have to choose from? You may want to consider choosing the most difficult language that you will be able to continue his involvement in. Spanish, French, Italian and the like are considered more simple languages. More complex languages like Mandarin, Farsi, Arabic, etc. would give your child an incredible leg up, not to mention the improved brain development implications (that the book describes in detail). And if you look, you might be surprised to find language groups, centers and classes for these more difficult languages that your son could continue involvement in throughout his school years to keep up on the language.
Thanks for the information. I am pming you the link to the school, perhaps they might know of a similar program near you.

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#18 of 22 Old 11-19-2008, 12:18 PM
 
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Both sound like fantastic schools. It's interesting because I first cringed when I saw this question thinking, "NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!" The reason for that is I live in Taiwan and foreign language "education" is quite different here. Notice I put "education" in quotation marks.

At the same time, I am working hard to change at least some of those problems and see benefits to what you're talking about. A key thing is to make sure the child's needs are met and language acquisition does not become primary over the child's needs. That's generally what happens in most pre-k and k schools I have seen in Taiwan, so my cringe and my bias comes from that. (Yes...I did find schools where that is not the case).

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#19 of 22 Old 11-19-2008, 04:00 PM
 
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Well, my DD is trilingual as a result of foreign language immersion so I am certainly not against it. However, I would not enroll in any immersion program in which the foreign language teachers were not native speakers. That the teacher speaks the language "fluently" is not enough, as even fluent speakers do not use proper sentence patterns and have a foreign accent when they speak. If they are native speakers, then go for it!

I love AMI Montessori, too! You can't really go wrong either way.

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#20 of 22 Old 11-19-2008, 07:02 PM
 
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I should have said that in San Diego we do have a German Coop Preschool, and a charter public school named Albert Einstein that is German Immersion beginning in kindergarten and then they start Spanish instruction as well in 2nd or 3rd. I have heard great things about Albert Einstein.

There is also a French American School here, while I do not know anyone that has had direct experience with it, we ruled it out as an option fairly early on.

I also agree with ROMANGODDESS: that having native speakers as teachers is of vital importance.
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#21 of 22 Old 11-20-2008, 02:44 PM
 
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My dd is in 1st grade - her 4th year of one-way, full-time language immersion school (private). Her school is IB accredited pre-k through 12th grade. This is her first year of getting any instruction in English... English language arts (reading and writing in English). We are bilingual at home in English and a third language. So dd is trilingual. At school, for the first 3 years all of her schooling was in the target language. Her Spanish is now as strong as the other two languages.

(She has never had a delay in any of the languages, btw... in fact she has always been way ahead in all the languages.)

I cannot stress enough how amazing these programs are. Dd doesn't speak her target language (Spanish, the other track is French) at home. Ever. She never has, which is what we are told to expect. But when she gets to school, it's an amazing transformation.

Just this year, her 4th, is she truly fluent. There are two main distinctions of fluency: BICS (Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills) is being able to ask for the restroom and understanding the routine of the day. CALP (Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency) is the level where you can actually teach an academic subject to the child and they understand fully. It takes about 6 months to achieve the first and about 3 - 7 years to achieve the latter (in full immersion).

I think it is particularly beneficial because dd gets a *true* multicultural education. I don't have much time to expound more, but if you want to PM me, I can answer any of your questions (other than those specific to the school itself) on language immersion school in the primary years.

Good luck!

ETA: Dd did have to have IQ testing to be admitted to this school. And a social interaction evaluation. You might verify if this is or is not necessary at your child's potential school. I don't put much stock in these as dd was barely 3 when she had hers! How much can they tell at that age?
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#22 of 22 Old 11-20-2008, 03:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Both sound like fantastic schools. It's interesting because I first cringed when I saw this question thinking, "NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!" The reason for that is I live in Taiwan and foreign language "education" is quite different here. Notice I put "education" in quotation marks.

At the same time, I am working hard to change at least some of those problems and see benefits to what you're talking about. A key thing is to make sure the child's needs are met and language acquisition does not become primary over the child's needs. That's generally what happens in most pre-k and k schools I have seen in Taiwan, so my cringe and my bias comes from that. (Yes...I did find schools where that is not the case).

Matt

Both are great schools, I will send you to the link of the Montessori School. Please tell me what you think about their program if you have the chance to look at the site since from other post you have a very good understanding of Montessori. I will keep your comments in mind about the needs of the child over language acquisition if we are accepted.



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Well, my DD is trilingual as a result of foreign language immersion so I am certainly not against it. However, I would not enroll in any immersion program in which the foreign language teachers were not native speakers. That the teacher speaks the language "fluently" is not enough, as even fluent speakers do not use proper sentence patterns and have a foreign accent when they speak. If they are native speakers, then go for it!

I love AMI Montessori, too! You can't really go wrong either way.
Both English teachers, the Spanish teacher and the French teacher are native speakers. I took high school spanish and french from non native speakers and I never did as well in their classes as I performed in those of native speakers.

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I should have said that in San Diego we do have a German Coop Preschool, and a charter public school named Albert Einstein that is German Immersion beginning in kindergarten and then they start Spanish instruction as well in 2nd or 3rd. I have heard great things about Albert Einstein.

There is also a French American School here, while I do not know anyone that has had direct experience with it, we ruled it out as an option fairly early on.

I also agree with ROMANGODDESS: that having native speakers as teachers is of vital importance.
Why did you rule out the French American School?

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My dd is in 1st grade - her 4th year of one-way, full-time language immersion school (private). Her school is IB accredited pre-k through 12th grade. This is her first year of getting any instruction in English... English language arts (reading and writing in English). We are bilingual at home in English and a third language. So dd is trilingual. At school, for the first 3 years all of her schooling was in the target language. Her Spanish is now as strong as the other two languages.

(She has never had a delay in any of the languages, btw... in fact she has always been way ahead in all the languages.)

I cannot stress enough how amazing these programs are. Dd doesn't speak her target language (Spanish, the other track is French) at home. Ever. She never has, which is what we are told to expect. But when she gets to school, it's an amazing transformation.

Just this year, her 4th, is she truly fluent. There are two main distinctions of fluency: BICS (Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills) is being able to ask for the restroom and understanding the routine of the day. CALP (Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency) is the level where you can actually teach an academic subject to the child and they understand fully. It takes about 6 months to achieve the first and about 3 - 7 years to achieve the latter (in full immersion).

I think it is particularly beneficial because dd gets a *true* multicultural education. I don't have much time to expound more, but if you want to PM me, I can answer any of your questions (other than those specific to the school itself) on language immersion school in the primary years.

Good luck!

ETA: Dd did have to have IQ testing to be admitted to this school. And a social interaction evaluation. You might verify if this is or is not necessary at your child's potential school. I don't put much stock in these as dd was barely 3 when she had hers! How much can they tell at that age?
This school is IB accredited pk3- 12th grade. IQ tests are not required for preschool3, but for PK4 and Kindergarten and the WISC IV is utilized for older applicants until 5th grade when the ISEE is required. A classroom observation is required for both the Montessori School and the International school.

I will PM you as questions arise. Thank you!!!

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