So you’re looking for a Kindergarten and you’re beginning to buckle by the weight of so many choices…your neighborhood school, that other neighborhood school, magnets, charters, permits, oh my!
Well, here’s another option to consider. Language immersion.
Dual-Language immersion programs are not new, but they’ve been steadily growing in popularity as an alternative path that gives the gift of bilingualism, multiculturalism and a more robust world view.
It’s no secret we’re a global melting pot here in Los Angeles. We represent many cultures and speak many languages. In LAUSD in 2010-11 almost 30% of our incoming Kindergarteners were English Learners.
Dual Language immersion programs offers non-English speakers the opportunity to learn in their own language as well as English, while teaching English students to learn and integrate another language, building a bridge to both languages and cultures. Unlike taking a language class as an elective, these programs teach core subjects in both languages so the level of language acquisition and comprehension is much deeper. The goal is for students to master grade level content while learning to speak, understand, read and write in both English and the target language.
Some programs offer a total immersion in one language for the first year, and then a gradual movement toward the other language in subsequent years until the two are balanced. This is called the 90-10 model. Some programs teach half the core subjects in English, and the other half in the other language, the 50-50 model. In either model, students are grouped to represent both native languages equally, and they both learn from each other. Because the program is so specialized, it deserves a full six-year (K-5) commitment in order to gain the maximum benefit of proficiency, and students will exit elementary school proficient in both languages.
While it might take longer initially to master core subjects while learning in two languages, students will not only catch up over time, but research shows that those who achieve advanced levels of proficiency in two languages often experience cognitive and linguistic advantages when compared to monolingual students. Bilingual students perform better on tasks that require divergent thinking, pattern recognition and problem solving, and have higher levels of metalinguistic awareness. Plus, it’s just cool. It’s forward thinking in a We are the World, We are the Children kind of way.
On the Westside of Los Angeles, families have several Dual Language elementary school options: Edison in SMMUSD (Spanish), El Marino (Spanish and Japanese) and La Ballona (Spanish) in CCUSD, Grandview (Spanish) and Broadway (Mandarin) in LAUSD, and Goethe International Charter (German).
In SMMUSD, John Adams Middle School and Santa Monica High School offers a continuation of the Spanish Dual Language program for students who started at Edison.
In LAUSD, Mark Twain Middle School offers a continuation of the Dual Language program in Spanish, has a Spanish, French, Korean, Japanese World Languages Magnet program, and will be the future home for matriculating Broadway Mandarin Academy students. Venice High School offers a World Languages and Global Studies Magnet program, offering French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish, as well as International Relations and Global Studies.
Tour, ask questions, and investigate your options.
NYTimes “The Benefits of Bilingualism” Op-Ed, here.
LAUSD Dual Language Program info, here.
The full LAUSD Dual Language Directory, here.
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Tanya Anton is the creator of GoMamaGuide.com
helping parents demystify and navigate their public school options in Los Angeles. To read more articles by Tanya or to learn about her Guidebooks, House Chats, Consultations, and Seminars, visit GoMamaGuide.com
or email us at GoMama@mac.com