(I've updated and am re-posting an article from last year, as I hope it will be helpful for our new families).
¡Bienvenidos to all of the new families in the Lincoln Elementary
Dual Language Program! It's hard to believe that we are beginning the fourth year of the popular dual language program at Lincoln. It's just
as hard to believe that three years ago, we had roughly 60 children in
the inaugural two classes and we now have close to 300 children in the Tk-4th grade dlp classes and over 60 students in the Spanish preschool.
It is truly amazing and a testament to the community demand for dual
As I watch all the new families
enter the school, I can't help but feel excited
for them and scared at the same time. It conjured up memories of the
first week of our dual language education journey with our oldest
daughter Alec. My husband and I felt as if we were taking a HUGE leap
of faith, but we knew in our hearts it was the best opportunity for our
daughter. So, when I came a across an article posted on
Spanglishbaby.com entitled Tips For Non-Native Speakers with Children at Dual Language Schools,
I realized that I have a few tips that I think are worth sharing. I
hope these are helpful for all our newbie dual immersion parents.
1) Be confident in your decision to enroll in a dual immersion.
As most parents know, children are very intuitive and they pick up on
almost everything. If your child senses your apprehension, it's more
likely that he/she will become apprehensive. I'm not saying you can't
or shouldn't have questions, concerns or doubts; however, I would bet
that you all have done your homework and your research on dual immersion
programs. You chose this program for a reason, believe and trust in
your choice and give it a fair shot. As our veteran Kinder teachers can attest to, most students that are resistant at the beginning of the school year tend to overcome their resistance by mid year, if not sooner. So hang in there! If you'd like to see what other parents from other dual language programs have to say about their child's kinder transitions, click here http://miparentscouncil.org/2012/08/31/parents-advice-on-transitioning-to-kindergarten/. There is also some great advice in this article posted on Spanglishbaby.com http://spanglishbaby.com/2012/12/why-it-takes-a-leap-of-faith-to-enroll-your-child-in-a-dual-language-immersion-program/.
2) Don't feel like you have to become fluent in Spanish to help your child with their homework or language acquisition.
There's no question that being bilingual parent is a major asset for a
child in a dual immersion program; however, the beauty of the program is
that is designed for native speakers of both languages. Our teachers
are so wonderful and helpful. They truly want our children to succeed
and will guide you through whatever assistance you need in regards to
homework. That's not to say that it's easy- it is a major commitment.
But in the end, isn't it worth it to have a child that is bilingual,
bi-cultural and bi-literate? And, if you are a person who loves
learning, this may be a great opportunity for you to brush up on your
high school Spanish or learn a few phrases along side your child. But
don't be discouraged when your child speaks Spanish without an English accent and you
sound like a total Gringo:)
3) Lean on other families in the program.
Over the past four years, we have developed a very supportive and
caring community of dual language families. Don't be afraid to reach
out to other families in your child's classroom or some of the families
in the older grades. I'm confident that there are a lot of families
that have experienced what you are going through right now. So, don't
be shy. We are here to support one another. The Dual Language Program Advocates and here to support you, as well. Send us an email, ask us a questions or share your ideas/concerns. We'd love to hear from you firstname.lastname@example.org. If we can't answer your question, we can certainly help you find someone who can.
4) Try not to freak out if your child says they don't want to learn Spanish.
I have heard so many great stories about English speaking children in
dual immersion programs and the funniest things they say. Some children
adapt quickly to the non English environment and others take more time
to warm up to the concept. If your child is resisting, it's important
to realize that resistance is very normal and with support and
encouragement your child will adjust. It takes time, patience, courage,
strength, and will power to not give in to the child that vehemently
resists. But with the right encouragement and support at home and at
school every child should succeed in the dual immersion setting.
5) Do your homework. As I
mentioned previously, I am confident that almost every parent that
chooses a dual immersion program does their research. Now that your
child is actually in a program it's important for you to delve even
deeper into the most common and successful practices of a dual immersion
program. It's imperative that you FULLY understand the 90-10 model and
that you become the biggest advocate for your child's education. As
you may know, our school holds dual immersion parent meetings 4-6 times a
school year and one dual immersion conference. I highly encourage all
of you to attend as many meetings as possible and stay well informed.
As great as our program is, it is still very new. Our teachers are
doing incredible work, but there are a lot of wonderful dual immersion
practices that we have yet to implement at our school. The more we know
the more powerful our voices are.
are so many more tips that you can find online or ask any parent of a 4th grader in the program. On behalf of the Dual Language Program
Advocates, I wish each and every one of you a fabulous first year and
Bienvenidos a Lincoln!