Q. Is the curriculum the same as the traditional classroom?
A. Yes, all grade-level standards will be taught and assessed. Grade-level teachers will continue to plan instruction and analyze data as a team.
Q. How does immersion differ from other types of language instruction?
A. Students are learning the language through the core curriculum instruction, not as a separate subject.
Q. Will immersion education affect my child’s English-language skills?
A. Students can add a second language at no cost to their first language competence (additive bilingualism) because languages are interdependent. Skills developed in the second language are available for learning and using in the first language and vice versa. The skills can transfer across languages. Additionally, immersion students match and often surpass their “English-only” peers by grade 4 or 5.
Q. How will the children understand what is happening in the classroom if they don’t speak Spanish?
A. Dual Language teachers are trained as both subject area and language teachers and make lessons understandable to all students by using hands-on learning, visual supports, and interactive activities and by teaching subject areas thematically. They use comprehensible input to support the language development of their students.
Q. How do I support my child in doing homework?
A. One of the best supports is ongoing communication between the teacher and the parents. Parents can also ask questions about the homework in the language spoken at home, thus giving the students opportunities to explain the assignment in their first language.
Q. How proficient in the second language will my child be?
A. Immersion students approach native-like levels in second-language listening comprehension and reading by the end of elementary school.
Q. Will my student be able to receive support services if necessary?
A. Yes, students who need additional support will receive those in the same manner as all other students in the district.
Q. How are students selected for the program?
A. Students are selected on a first come, first served based on home language (maintaining 50% of the class as native Spanish speakers and 50% from other language backgrounds). Families express interest in the program on their online form upon enrolling with the district. A waiting list is maintained. Enrollment decisions will be in the following priority order:
- Students within the Western Hills school boundaries.
- Students with siblings already in the program.
- All other students registering with the WDMCS.
Q. Does my student need to start the program in kindergarten to participate?
A. Students could join the program in kindergarten or first grade (depending on space). If a student wanted to join in later years, they would need to have appropriate Spanish language to do so. Placement would also be dependent on space in the program.
Q. What if my student doesn’t like the program or is not Experiencing success?
A. Students and families should commit to the program for the duration of the program (K-5 or K-6), but we recognize that extreme circumstances may occur. Every effort will be made to ensure success for students in conjunction with parental support. If families are unsure that this is the right pathway for their child, they will meet with the building principal and teacher to collaboratively determine next steps.