What is “immersion”?
Immersion is a method of teaching in which subjects are taught in the target language. Typically in a daytime immersion school, Kindergarten, students spend 80-90% of their day working in the language. By second grade, they spend 60% of their day working in their target language. For third through eighth grade, target language/English instruction is close to 50% each.
Gradual Immersion Model
The gradual immersion model seeks a compromise from both worlds of the immersion theories- the full immersion principle and the 90:10 Method. The gradual immersion model seeks to balance the following scenarios so that we can provide foreign language instruction to different types of students and group make-up.
- A mix-age and/or mix-level group.
- A child who has never been exposed to the target language.
- A school with both an immersion daytime program and an English program.
- Parents who are concerned about their child experiencing a “language shock” in a full immersion environment.
There are many different situations our Curriculum Specialists and the Program Coordinators experienced, but having a Gradual Immersion Model provides flexibility for a teacher to navigate his/her target language usage on a scale between 50:50 to 100% in the classroom. The choice may be targeted to an individual student, a small group, or the entire class. The scale may also shift during different program hours such as- playground, break, snack, and instructional time. Our Program Coordinator will work with you or your school to determine the best Immersion Scale for the class.
Another flexibility the Gradual Immersion Model provides is convenience for students to join on a seasonal basis. Although we would like to eventually build an immersion program where each class has a fixed number of set of students progressing together in the long-run, it is important to be inclusive of other interested families. Having multiple classes at one site helps us divide the classes as evenly as possible. That’s why we need parent supporters to help us invest in a sustaining immersion program with the potential to grow into multiple classes.
Why Learn Spanish?
Spanish has been our most requested language since the day we started offering classes. Parents in every community tell us that they feel that Spanish offers practical and cultural relevance for their children. Who’s learning Spanish these days? For starters, residents of the United States, a bunch not known for conquering monoligualism, are studying Spanish in record numbers. Spanish, too, is becoming of greater importance in Europe, where it often is the foreign language of choice after English. And it’s no wonder that Spanish is a popular second or third language: with some 400 million speakers, it’s the fourth most commonly spoken language in the world (after English, Chinese and Hindustani), and according to some counts it has more native speakers than English does. It is an official language on four continents and is of historical importance elsewhere. Much of the vocabulary of English has Latin origins, much of which came to English by way of French. Since Spanish is also a Latin language, you will find as you study Spanish that you have a better understanding of your native vocabulary. Similarly, both Spanish and English share Indo-European roots, so their grammars are similar. There is perhaps no more effective way to learn English grammar than by studying the grammar of another language, for the study forces you to think about how your language is structured. It’s not unusual, for example, to gain an understanding of English verbs’ tenses and moods by learning how those verbs are used in Spanish.
Why Learn Mandarin?
The popularity of Mandarin is growing heavily as China’s influence grows in the U.S. and throughout the world. More and more families tell us that they are willing to take on the rigors of learning a language that is wholly unlike English in order to gain the advantage of being able to speak the “language of the future.” i-Immersion has partnered with long-time Mandarin educators and curriculum developers to develop a curriculum that maintains our dynamic, playful approach while respecting the particular challenges of learning this language. The number one reason for learning Mandarin Chinese is that it is the most widely-spoken language in the world. Learn to speak Mandarin and you can speak with millions of people around the world. The Chinese Writing System is quite a challenge, but this is another reason to learn it! Despite its difficulty, learning to read and write Chinese will give you a lifetime of intellectual stimulation. The real beauty of the language is revealed in the writing. There are thousands of Chinese characters, but they are not randomly constructed. There is a system to their design, and understanding that system makes it much easier to learn new characters. About 800 million people speak Mandarin as their mother tongue, plus 200 million people as a second language. Keep in mind that all the Chinese languages in China are written more or less the same and that if you can read one, you can read all.
Language Development Window
- Birth to 1 year- up to about 5 months of age, babies can babble all the sounds of all the languages on earth. Then at about six months of age babies begin to only vocalize (copy) the language sounds they are regularly exposed to. At this stage, languages are acquired rather than learned.
- At 3 years- brain seems to do a lot of processing, figuring out how to compartmentalize languages.
- At 4 years- Children now have a firm base in whatever languages they have been surrounded with in the first year or two of life and a second language learning area of the brain can now be formed. This is the best time to introduce a second language if child was raised monolingual from birth and a good time to offer a bilingual child a third language.
- Up to 7 years- Before 7 years-old, the pre-frontal cortex is not fully developed and the child does not yet have the ability to focus on more than one big thing at a time. Whatever the brain is dealing with requires the whole brain to focus on it, which might help young children before the age of seven “absorb” languages without formally being taught.
- Eight years to adulthood- new languages are formally “learned” not holistically acquired.