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How are students chosen to participate in the Dual Immersion Language program at WM Irvin?

Rising kindergarten students who live within the WM Irvin Elementary Attendance Zone will be placed in the Dual Immersion program upon receipt of their application.  

What is meant by the term 50/50 Dual Immersion?

These programs group native speakers of English with native speakers of Spanish. The mix is approximately 50% of each group and both become bilingual, bi-literate and bicultural. Instruction is provided both in English and in Spanish on alternate days.  There are a variety of models, and percentages like 90/10 and 50/50 are used to refer to how much of the instruction at different grade levels is conducted in the target language versus how much is given in English. The model we will use at WM Irvin Elementary is a 50/50 model so that equal instruction is provided in both English and Spanish.

Will students in the Dual Immersion Language program participate in "Encore" classes?

Yes. They will go to physical education, music, art, media, guidance, and computer classes as often and on the same rotating basis as students in traditional kindergarten classes.

Can Dual Immersion students qualify for and receive services from The Exceptional Childrens Department, Speech, and Academically Gifted teachers?

Yes. All of these services are available to students in the dual language immersion language program and the process for qualifying for these services is the same as it is for students in traditional classes. These services would be provided in English.

Is an immersion program only appropriate for really high performing students?

No. Research shows that immersion education can be effective for a wide variety of learners, including academically/intellectually gifted students, non-native English speakers, students with many special education needs and socio-economic challenges.

Will Dual Immersion students receive ESL (English as a Second Language) services?

Yes. If a Dual Immersion student qualifies for ESL services he/she will receive the appropriate level of service from one of our ESL teachers.

Isn't kindergarten too young? Transitioning my 5 year old to school is hard enough. Why would I make it harder?

You're right. Starting school is a transition, especially for those who have not had pre-school experiences already. Learning to go to school, to understand school procedures and routines, is a transition, but it can happen in any language. The high use of props, puppets, and gestures at this early age benefits language learning. When you watch your five year old responding to her Kindergarten teacher's instructions and conversing with her classmates in another language you will understand the possibilities.


What if my child doesn't respond well or doesn't like it?

Like any kindergarten child, your child will be tired at the end of the school day. It's tough work to play hard and stick to all those school rules. It’s even more exhausting when you are processing a new language. So don't be surprised if your child is tired and cranky after school. If you are worried your child is not enjoying school or thriving in the immersion environment, talk to your teacher and principal. Most kids respond well to joining an immersion program--- they are made to feel secure right from the start and, after a few days, they do not focus on the fact that the teacher is not speaking English. Parents should give it at least 9 weeks, if not a full semester, to see if the child responds better after just getting through the transition of being in school.


Will my child be able to speak English in class until she learns enough vocabulary to communicate?

 In kindergarten you will often hear children speaking or responding to teachers in English. However, their teachers will be speaking only in the target language to them, using a lot of gestures and props to convey the messages. Good immersion teachers will encourage new language learners to respond in the target language by giving them the needed vocabulary to mimic. Good immersion teachers will not revert to English, unless safety or emergency necessitates. Good immersion teachers, by the middle of first grade, will insist on NO ENGLISH in the immersion classroom. Students will quickly realize an easy way out if they are able to speak any English (except in emergencies) with their teacher. Don't be surprised if your child thinks her teacher does not know any English!


Will my child take state mandated assessment, like the EOGs, in the foreign language?

No. All state mandated assessments, like the EOGs, will be taken in English.

I don't speak another language so I won't be able to help my child at home.

The most important thing you can do at home is read to your child in English. Read and ask questions. Reading in any language supports the acquisition of reading skills such as fluency, vocabulary building, comprehension, etc. Your child's homework should support what he has learned in class. Students should be able to tackle the assignment on their own. Parents will be able to identify what skill is being addressed and support your child's learning in the skill, even if you can only help in English. Homework should not be a struggle! If it is, please talk with your child's teacher. The good news: You don't have to know the language to support your child at home.


What else can I do to help?

There is a lot you can do. Be a strong parent advocate. Start an immersion parent group to support each other, educate each other, share successes and challenges and ideas to make the program outstanding. Recruit for your school and spread the word. Tell all your friends what you know about the program. Post it on your Facebook wall. It will be important for the health of the program to maintain healthy numbers in the immersion classrooms. We should have a healthy wait-list at all times so that any vacancies are immediately filled. Fundraise for a bilingual library because we can never have enough Spanish books. Host a holiday book drive. Purchase books for the classroom or school library and encourage other parents to do the same.