Check out the facts about Dual Language:
Q: How does the English/Spanish instruction work?
A: The 50/50 model: Students receive exactly 50% of their instructional minutes in English, and 50% in Spanish. Some specials classes (Art, Music, PE) are in English, Technology and Second Step are in English half of the time and Spanish the other half. To make up for the English minutes in Specials, students will have longer periods of Spanish in Math, Science or Social studies.
Biliteracy: Students receive two literacy blocks per day—one consisting of shared reading, read aloud and writing, and the other with guided reading and independent practice. The literacy components change languages after every unit. For example, for Unit one, a student may receive shared reading and writing in Spanish, but guided reading and independent practice time in English. For Unit 2, they would switch—Shared reading and writing would be in English, Guided reading and independent practice would be in Spanish. Standards and learning targets are NOT translated or repeated, they are reinforced in both languages.
Bridging: Each day, students have a block of time that is language neutral, that means it’s taught in both languages at the same time. During this time, students learn how English and Spanish work together. They will learn how to identify cognates (like intelligent and inteligente), learn grammar and phonics unique to each language, and how to identify formal and informal register, purpose, and strategies for using both languages for greater comprehension.
Q: Won’t learning Spanish hurt my child’s growth in English?
A: The short answer is no. There is no research that supports that learning a second language for native English speakers, or learning in Spanish for native Spanish speakers is detrimental to a students’ English language development. There is A LOT of research that supports that native Spanish speakers make the greatest growth in a dual language model than any other English language development model; and that native English speakers that come from a dual language program outperform their peers in high school and college.*
Q: What if my child is getting frustrated or confused in their second language?
A: As anyone who has ever attempted learning a second language knows, this feeling is normal, albeit uncomfortable. At Irish, we talk about these feelings every day with kids, and teach them how to cope with their uncomfortable feelings and persevere when things get tough. This kind of character building not only helps kids academically and with their language growth, it also helps give them 21st Century skills to problem solve, collaborate, innovate, and follow through. The detriment of short term discomfort is outweighed by the great advantage of becoming bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural global citizens.
Q: How can I help my child if I don’t speak the other language?
A: 1) Make sure they read every day. It doesn’t matter which language, or if they read with you or independently. Giving them time and space for downtime and enjoyable reading will greatly benefit their academic growth. 2) Stay in close contact with the teacher. You can expect a newsletter from your child’s teacher once a month explaining what they are learning about in each language, so you can ask your child and reinforce their learning in their home teacher. Always contact the teacher if you have
questions or concerns about your child’s academic growth. 3) Model language learning—ask your child about the new language they are learning. Let them be the teacher!
Q: What is the expectation for homework?
A: Each grade levels is a bit different, but all grades are expected to read (leer/lectura) at home every day. Some grades will have additional math (matamáticas) or writing (escribir/escritura). Check your child’s planner to be certain. However, the purpose of homework is not to create a grade for the child, but to teach them good home study habits that can last them through secondary school and college. It is the parents’ responsibility to provide time and space for the child to do their homework—not to help them with it or do it for them. If your child cannot do their homework independently and without tears, please contact the teacher. Homework should not be a time of stress, but a time for the child to celebrate—look what I can do by myself! For more information, see parent handbook pages 20-23.
Q: I’m sorry, but I still don’t understand.
A: No problem! Most of us did not attend a dual language school as a child, nor did we grow up in an era of standardized testing and common core standards. If you still have questions, please feel free to contact your child’s teacher, the assistant principal or the principal. In addition, please continue to read our regular newsletters, website updates, and facebook posts. Finally, come to our Padres en Acción meetings! They are the first Thursday of every month, from 5:00-7:00 (childcare and dinner provided!). You can learn more about not only how our school works and how we are working to improve, but how the parent community can support us in doing so!
*Thomas and Collier, The Astounding Effectiveness of Dual Language for All. 2002; Cloud, Genesee & Hamayan, Dual Language Instruction A-Z. 2013