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Greenspring Montessori is in the Early Stages of Implementing Spanish Immersion & Dual-Language Programs

Starting in Fall 2013, two native-speaking faculty members will be starting a Spanish Dual-Language Primary (Children’s House) classroom here at Greenspring Montessori School.  After this first, phase-in year, this classroom will become a full Spanish Immersion environment.

This marks the beginning of Greenspring Montessori’s journey toward offering at least one Spanish Immersion or Dual-Language classroom at every level.  We are committed to bringing this program to the Lower Elementary level by Fall of 2015, to accommodate our pilot Children’s House students as they move up.

Common Questions and Answers about Spanish Immersion and Dual-language Programs

What is a Language Immersion Program?

Language Immersion is a method of teaching a second language, generally referred to as the target language. A language immersion program uses this target language as a teaching tool, rather than the subject.  All class activities and subjects, which include the areas of literacy, math, culture, art, etc. and other activities such as meals and play, are conducted completely in the target language, thus surrounding the student in this second language. Results from full immersion programs after three school years tend to be high proficiency in the target language.

In our immersion classrooms, the children will be free to speak in the language in which they feel comfortable but the guides will use only the target language (Spanish). Immersion teachers realize that their students will not understand everything they say so they use a variety of methods to communicate including body language, context clues, gestures, exaggerated facial expressions, expressive intonation, visual aides, and objects to communicate their meaning.

In Primary communities, it is common for the children to communicate in English. The older children in the classroom often act as natural, unprompted translators for the younger ones. In a very short amount of time, the children begin understanding basic instructions and information delivered by the teachers in the target language. Often children begin speaking spontaneously and expressing their own thoughts in their second language in less than a year.

What is a Dual-Language Program?

Dual-language is a form of education in which students are taught literacy and content in two languages. A dual-language program supports children who have already had significant exposure to the target language in continuing their proficiency. A dual-language program can also offer exposure to a target language to children with little or no previous experience in this language.

Why Offer Spanish Language Programs?

Learning a second language has innumerable benefits on a child’s life. Research shows that it increases creativity and enhances verbal and mathematical problem solving skills. The students develop an advantage in grasping and formulating concepts. These skills contribute profoundly to a child’s self-esteem and their sense of values. Best of all, it prepares a child for life in the multicultural, multilingual world of the 21st century.

What would the Dual-Language English/Spanish Program look like for the Primary Program?

Children ages 3 to 6 years old will spend the morning in a classroom with both English and Spanish being spoken.  Because our children receive individualized lessons, children will be able to receive the lesson they are ready for in both Spanish and English throughout the day.  Stories and songs will be shared in both languages.  The goal for the 2013-2014 school year is that children will become comfortable with the Spanish language, with comprehension of the spoken word, and some verbal use of Spanish, as well.

What will the Spanish Immersion look like for the Primary Program?

In the fall of 2014 we will begin a full Spanish Immersion Primary Program.  Children ages 3 to 6 years old spend the morning in a Spanish speaking setting from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm. All adult-to-student communication in the classroom will be in Spanish.

For students who stay for our full day program, participating in the Kindergarten, Enrichment or the Nap Room in the afternoon, programming will be in English from 1:00 pm through 3:00 pm. This will provide time for Kindergarten and Enrichment students to work with materials in English.

Is the Dual-language Program a good fit for my child?

Learning a new language offer challenges!  Children will need at least two years in the program to have any real proficiency in the language.

Research shows that mastery of reading in one language is strongly recommended before beginning work on reading in a second language. Children who are already learning to read in English we will continue to teach in English during the Dual-Language year of 2013-2014.  Those who are new to the Children’s House classroom will begin learning their letter sounds in Spanish.

After the fall of 2014, all reading and writing will be taught in Spanish during the morning work cycle in the Spanish Immersion Program.


From the Spanish Immersion/Dual-Language Program