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10 Frequently Asked Questions About Language Immersion

What is Language Immersion?

Language immersion is a method used to teach students a second language where the language being taught is primarily used during teaching. This means that for the majority of the day, students are spending time learning, hearing, and speaking in a language other than their native tongue.

What Languages are taught?

The International School of Arizona has language immersion programs focusing in Spanish and French. 

What Are the Types of Teaching Models?

There are primarily two teaching methods when it comes to language immersion. There is a 90/10 model, where 90% of the time students are engaging in the target language, with 10% of the time speaking in English.

The 50/50 model divides time equally between English and the target language.

While both types of teaching methods develop bilingual and biliteracy skills in students, a 90/10 model is usually recommended for students who have primary access to English outside of the school.

The 50/50 model is thus recommended for students where the second language is utilized outside of the classroom and within their home and community. This allows students to speak both languages in school and at home.

What Are the Benefits of Language Immersion?

There are many benefits for students who partake in language immersion programs, including mental flexibility, verbal expression, and they can recognize non-verbal communication much faster than monolinguals.

Apart from higher academic performances, students who participate in language immersion programs also benefit from higher levels of social and emotional skills at earlier ages. Along with developing a better sense of multiculturalism and diversity.

Will This Affect Their English Skills?

It is important to understand that language immersion programs are developed to help students become bilingual and enjoy biliteracy. This does not mean that the second language is to replace English. Students can develop skills in a second language just like they did for their native tongue without any effects on the first language. In fact, the loss of instructional time in English has not shown any negative effects on their skills in the first language.

What Curriculum is Followed in Language Immersion Programs?

The International School of Arizona follows three curricula:

1. The French National Curriculum in accordance with its accreditation from the French Ministry of Education and its affiliation with the AEFE (Agence pour l’enseignement français à l’étranger = The Agency for French Education Abroad).

2. The Spanish National Curriculum in accordance with the accreditation from the Instituto Cervantes, on behalf of the Spanish Ministry of Education.

3. A United States Curriculum based on Arizona state standards. For Kindergarten through 3rd Grade, the Fundations Program is taught.

What if My Child Does Not Respond Well to the Program?

While it is understandable that your child might have a hard time adjusting to learning a second language, it is recommended to try to wait at least nine weeks and up to a semester to decide if the program is right for your child. 

Starting school can be a difficult adjustment for many children, especially if they have not experienced academic settings previously. Therefore keeping a positive attitude and supporting your child is the most important thing to keep in mind as your child begins their language immersion journey.

Can My Child Join Language Immersion After First Grade?

Language immersion programs have different guidelines when it comes to accepting new students. Some programs will not accept new students after the first week of first grade and others will not accept English learners after second grade. This all depends on the programs bilingual and biliteracy goals the school has set forth, therefore it is best to check directly with the school to know the guidelines.

How Can I Help if I Only Speak English?

Even if you do not speak the target language your child is learning, there are still plenty of opportunities for you to help your child. Reading with them daily will help introduce them to new vocabulary as well as improve their reading skills and comprehension. All these skills will translate when learning a second language. 

Additionally, a strong support system for your child will take them a long way in being successful academically.  Studies have shown that students whose parents have shown enthusiasm and positive attitudes towards school tend to do better in language immersion programs. Encourage the use of the second language outside of school with books, games, plays, television shows or movies, and sporting events, to further develop the language skills.

How Does the Application Process Work?

At the International School of Arizona we aim to make the application process as easy as possible.

  1. Submit a request for information or contact the admissions office to schedule a visit to campus or a meeting with faculty

  2. Submit an online application

  3. Arrange a “shadow day” where your child can experience a day in the life of our students and get a glimpse of how fun our language immersion programs are

Learn With the International School of Arizona

With a 22-year history, the International School of Arizona continues to adapt, evolve, and provide an inclusive cultural curriculum to all students. We offer French and Spanish language immersion programs that begin at 18 months and continue 

through 8th grade. Made up of like-minded, multicultural parents, our community demands the highest academic standards and understands the importance of parent inclusivity. Contact us today for more information on our programs and give your child the gift of a second language.

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