Language Immersion FAQ

  • What is language immersion education?

    Language immersion education is a method of teaching a foreign language.  Students spend at least 50% of their time immersed in the foreign language.  All subject areas are taught through both English and a foreign language.  The goal of immersion is to provide learning experiences in two languages so that they develop proficiency both academically and linguistically.

     

    What does language immersion look like in Richland One?

    In the Language Immersion program in Richland One, students will spend 50% of their day in English where they are taught English language arts and Social Studies.  The other 50% of the day is spent in either Spanish or Chinese where they are taught Math, Science, and either Spanish or Chinese language arts.

     

    How does language immersion work?

    Initially, students new to language immersion do not always understand everything being said.  Teachers use a variety of teaching strategies like exaggerated facial expressions, visuals, and manipulatives to communicate with students.  In the beginning, it is not uncommon for students to use English to communicate with other students and teachers.  As they move through the program, students begin to use more of the language. 

     

    How does language immersion affect the development of English reading and writing?

    It is a common myth that language immersion will have a negative impact on a child’s language development, but research has shown quite the opposite.  Learning two languages simultaneously only enhances a student’s first language.  In a study done in Montreal, Canada, English speaking students received most of their instruction in French from Kindergarten- 6th grade.  In reading, writing, and listening tests, these students outperformed their English-only counterparts (Cloud, et al., 2000).  As a student learns a second language, they learn to understand that different languages use different rules.  Learning and understanding a second language helps language learners to better understand their primary language.   

     

    I don’t speak another language, how can I help my child at home?

    This is the most commonly asked question by parents.  Research has shown that developing a strong foundation in the primary language will help support students’ second language.  Parents can help students’ language development by reading with them, having conversations, and providing experiences at home that allow students to apply what is being learned at school.  An example is that if your Pre-Kindergarten student is learning about money and how it is used, then provide them with the opportunity to help you shop at the grocery store or allow them to work for money at home doing chores or other tasks.  For more ideas on how to support your students’ language development, please see the Parent Resource section located on the Language Immersion page.

     

    How is a language immersion classroom different from a traditional classroom?

    A language immersion classroom is different from a traditional classroom in several ways.  The biggest difference is that students spend 50% of their time in English and the other 50% in the foreign language.  In our model, our students have an English teacher and a Spanish or Chinese teacher.  The curriculum is split between the two teachers.  Another notable difference is how the curriculum is built.  In the traditional classroom, the curriculum is taught in sections with a language arts block, a math block, a science block, and a social studies block.  Due to the time constraints of the day being split between two teachers, there isn’t enough time to teach in blocks.  The literacy and math is integrated into the science and socials studies standards.  The topics and themes the students read and write about are based on the content theme. 

     

    Who are the teachers?

    Our language immersion teachers all possess degrees in teaching and South Carolina certification.  Our teachers have teaching experience ranging from 1 to 22 years in the classroom with an average of 12 years.  They come from China, Spain, Venezuela, Mexico, Jamaica, and the United States.

     

    What will students learn?

    Students are taught thematic units built from South Carolina College and Career-Ready standards.  Students will learn Science, Social Studies, Literacy, and Math through both English and a foreign language.  Science, Chinese or Spanish language arts, and Math are taught in Chinese or Spanish.  Social Studies and English language arts are taught in English.

     

    What are the benefits of participating in a language immersion program?

    In research regarding bilingual and immersion education, students who are bilingual demonstrate stronger thinking abilities in certain areas.  These students perform better on tasks that require them to be creative in problem solving, as well as recognizing patterns.  There is also the added benefit of being bilingual, which is an indemand skill worldwide.

     

    Who can attend Richland One’s Language Immersion program?

    Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, and 1st Grade students living in the Richland One attendance zone may apply for the program.  Pre-Kindergarten students must be four years old by September 1, 2019 and Kindergarten students must be 5 years old by September 1, 2019.

                                     

    How do I apply for the Richland One Language Immersion program?

    Application forms are distributed at mandatory parent information sessions. To view the schedule and register for parent information sessions, please visit the Carver-Lyon Elementary School Website at www.http://carverlyon.richlandone.org/

     

    Who do I contact for more information?

    For more information regarding the Language Immersion program, you can contact Della Thigpen, Language Immersion Lead Teacher, at della.thigpen@richlandone.org.  You can also call the school at (803) 343-2900.

     

     

     

    References

     

    Beeman, K. & Urow, C. (2013). Teaching for Biliteracy: Strengthening Bridges between Languages. Philadelphia, PA: Caslon, Inc.

     

    Cloud, N., Genesee, F., & Hamayan, E. (2000). Dual Language Instruction: A Handbook for Enriched Education. Boston, MA: Heinle.

     

    Fortune, T.W. & Tedick, D.J. (2003, August). What Parents Want to Know About Foreign Language Immersion Programs. Retrieved from http://www.ericdigests.org/2004-4/parents.htm