Teaching an additional language through immersion yields amazing results. Decades of research strongly supports language immersion as a best educational practice for diverse groups of learners. Students in an immersion program are taught in a language they are learning – a target language – for at least half their instructional time. In an immersion program, the target language is used to teach academic content – math, science, history, social studies – and more.
A bilingual education has a multitude of benefits. Beyond just speaking more than one language, bilingual students are better thinkers.
- Bilingual students have superior focus and the ability to tune out distractions [study: American Psychological Association].
- Bilingual students score higher on IQ tests and produce higher SAT scores on subjects unrelated to language; like math and science [Study: Dartmouth College].
- Bilingual students are better learners. When children learn a second language, it’s often easier for them to learn a third, fourth or fifth language.
- Bilinguals have a more informed and empathetic view of people and cultures. This makes them better citizens of the world.
- Bilingual children develop enhanced literacy skills. (Dr. Ellen Bialystok, Cambridge University).
- Bilingual children display more divergent and creative thinking than monolingual children (Dr. Barbara Zurer Pearson, University of Miami).
- Younger children have a superior ability to learn a second language. There is a window of time before the mind ‘lateralizes’ language into a rigid, hard-to-reach compartment, a period of time when the mind has a ‘functional plasticity.’ It lasts from infancy up until around the age of 12. [Dr. Eric Lenneberg, Harvard Medical School, Dr. Ellen Bialystok, York University]
Spanish is the most common second language in Tampa Bay, throughout Florida, and in the United States, giving your student the ability to practice their new skills outside the classroom in many different environments. Spanish is also the second most widely spoken language worldwide; 560 million people speak Spanish. It is a primary language in 21 nations.
At our school, 50% of our students’ instruction is conducted in Spanish and 50% in English from grades K-5. In middle school (grades 6-8) students may continue with immersion instruction for half their instructional time. . Alternatively, they may opt for a Spanish proficiency track, in which instruction takes place primarily in English and students learn Spanish as a special subject. The goal of this track is to help students develop competency in the Spanish language and lay a strong foundation for future mastery of the Spanish language.
Students who go through the entire sequence of an elementary immersion program develop intermediate levels of fluency and are able to communicate in their additional language on topics appropriate to their age level. In addition to the goal of functional proficiency in an additional language, immersion programs have further goals: the mastery of subject content material — taught through the additional language — and the deeper understanding and enrichment of one’s own life that comes from learning about people and cultures other than one’s own.
Additional research can be found on our FAQ page.