Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Transitioning into Spanish

Well, the school year has started and kids, teachers and families are beginning to fall into the rhythm of the schedule. For many families, the first few weeks are filled with excitement, anxiety, hope and fear. It's especially challenging for families that are entering a dual language program for the first time. Some children are following right into the routine and others are having a harder time. That's why we've compiled some words of wisdom from  families that have experienced the transition into language immersion firsthand. If you have questions and/or concerns or just want to speak with someone who has gone through a dual language program, be sure to comment or send us an email at

"This one is from Grandma. I had three children in Spanish Immersion and it was 100% in kinder and 1st grade. Granted that every child is different, I think that you need to take a deep breath and relax a little. This is the first week. Of course, your child  might come home and say that he/she did not understand everything but give them a week or two and the picture should be different. Try not to show your anxiety about this because your child will pick up on it. Remember that yesterday and for the next few weeks there will be hundreds of children entering their first time in a language immersion class. Children are like sponges and they do pick up very quickly. Some of this difficulty maybe just adjusting to school in general. Be supportive and positive with your child and listen to them. If you feel like the problem persists speak with the teacher. Check to see that your child is eating well and sleeping well Other signs of difficulty maybe crying alot or being belligerent.  Change in those behaviors can indicate that there is some undue stress and needs to be addressed further. A lot of times, it may be the parent that is having the more difficult time. Hope this helps." Written by Madeline Ehrlich

"Try, as best as you can, not to show any anxiety to your kids.  Tell them how special they are to be learning another language with their fellow classmates.  Kids look to their parents for understanding and if they see how excited you are, they'll follow your lead.

Part of the anxiety comes from not knowing.  This can be an incredible life lesson for kids and adults, too!  There will always be times of non-knowing something and the more that we can teach them that this is a natural part of learning, the more they accept it and the better learners they can become.  Relaxed kids = better learners!

One of my favorite stories about a kid's first week in a Spanish Dual Language class is from the principal of our school.  A young boy kept coming home and saying "I think I'm in the wrong class, they speak Spanish in my class".  The mother kept reassuring him that he was in the right class.  Eventually, he stopped saying he was in the wrong class. This boy was our principal's son!

"You're giving your child an incredible gift!"
Written by Jenny Manriquez, Mother of 5th Grade, Spanish Immersion Student

"As an English speaking parent of a son who has spent the last five years in a Dual Immersion Program, I am thrilled with his speaking, reading, and writing skills in both Spanish and English. As all of his homework has been in Spanish over the years, the program gave me a chance to learn Spanish along side of him and opened up a world of resources in order to help him thrive. No matter your fears or hesitations, you can do this Your child(ren) will appreciate the gift."  written by Michelle Ramos, Castroville Elementary DLP & Boronda Meadows DLP parent

"Congratulations on your Spanish Dual Language Program!

I have three kids, just about to go into 2nd, 4th and 6th grades. We are an English-only household. Well, my husband and I only speak English! My kids have been in language immersion since Kindergarten. They LOVE Spanish. And their state testing in English is through the roof. From my experience, my kids didn't notice they were in Spanish immersion. They thought that all schools taught only in Spanish, lol.

Please reassure your parents that the anxiety their kids feel might be mirrored anxiety from the parents themselves. Plus, the kindergartners and first graders might be feeling the same anxiety that many kids feel going to school for the first time, or back to school after a long summer - regardless of whether they're in dual language, immersion, or any other school for that matter.

My husband and I both agree that giving our kids the gift of a second language is one of the best things we've done for them. Take care and stay with it! Oh, and don't forget to take a deep breath. You deserve it!" written by Jeannine Wisnosky Stehlin


  1. Thank you for this...what great insight! I love the story of the little boy who thought he was in the wrong class. =) So far, my first grader's 'favorite' thing about her new class is recess, and her 'least favorite thing' is being in school all day and getting tired. When I asked her what it was like having her whole school day in Spanish, she simply stated "I thought it was a little weird at first, but I'm getting used to it." Sounds like she's going with the flow pretty well...and that the class works together to understand something new. I can already appreciate how the kids are coming together to tackle a "common goal"...and it's only the 3rd day!
    -Amanda Bakker

  2. What a great post. On Friday night during bedtime, after our first full week of kinder immersion, my son asked me to only speak to him in Spanish. He said, "Say everything in Spanish, every single word." I wish I could, but hearing him say this means that he is positive and enjoying his class. We are looking forward to the parent meeting.