How will the teacher help my child learn and understand in a second language?
The best way to acquire a second language is through meaningful and authentic experiences. In order to help students understand oral and written language without the need for translation, your child's teacher will use a variety of strategies such as: exaggerated gestures, objects, visuals, chants, songs, stories, and poems. Translating, or switching from one language to the other during instruction, is not helpful because students tend to "wait" to hear the instruction in their stronger language. Therefore, teachers are strongly encouraged to adhere to the target language during instructional time.
What is expected academically of students in a Dual Language Immersion program?
In addition to learning the same academic content as any other MCPS student, Dual Language Program students are responsible for:
- Participating actively in learning their two languages.
- Showing effective effort through participation during class activities, including class work, team work, and independent work in Spanish.
- Listening, focusing and paying attention for longer periods of time in order to grasp what is being taught in both languages.
How will my child be assessed?
Dual Language students participate in the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) assessments (SOLs will be administered in English) and other school and district-wide tests taken by students throughout the division. Students will be assessed in the language of instruction (i.e. content areas taught in Spanish will be assessed in Spanish and those taught in English will be assessed in English) using a variety of classroom-based and commercially available assessments.
How will my child be graded?
Similar to all MCPS students, progress reports and grades will reflect student performance in all subject areas. In addition, dual language students will receive a progress report in Spanish language arts.
Is there a cost for my child to participate?
What can I do to support my child’s dual language experience if I don’t speak the second language?
The most important things you can do to support this experience are:
- Read and speak to your child daily in your native language. Reading practice in the home is invaluable, regardless of the language, because reading skills readily transfer from one language to anothER.
- Engage in daily conversations with your child in your native language. (Speaking both languages at home is not necessary for your child’s successful language acquisition or academic development.) Ideas include discussing academic concepts at home, giving your child the opportunity to explain assignments, and talk about current events.
We speak a language other than Spanish or English at home. Can our child benefit?
Yes, the Dual Language program is a great place for students from all language backgrounds, because every teacher has been trained to use strategies that support second (or third) language learning.
How long will it take my child to learn a second language?
While individual children vary, it typically takes students from 1-3 years to acquire social language (the language of the playground) and at least five years or more to acquire academic language (the language of school). Students encountering a second language for the first time may experience a "silent period" that lasts anywhere from one day to six months or more. During this time, they are acquiring receptive understanding, and should not be forced to speak. Even as they develop proficiency, children may be reluctant to speak in their second language at home.
What common issues should I expect and how do I handle them?
Be prepared for the fact that your child will initially be confused and even frustrated. They will likely be very tired at the end of the day, as language learning is cognitively demanding. This reaction is very normal for first- time immersion learners and can last from two weeks to two months depending on the child’s age and basic language ability. Children are generally very resilient and will soon feel comfortable with the second language.
Here are some common concerns:
- Slow initial performance. Your child may initially learn to read and write English at a slower pace than students in an English only school. Parent involvement is essential at this stage to encourage reading at home. Once this temporary stage has passed, most immersion students perform at or above grade level in both languages.
- Homework help. Parents who do not speak the second language may feel frustrated at times because they don’t know exactly what their child is doing. If you are concerned about your child’s progress, do not hesitate to call and ask to have a conference with his or her teacher. The teachers are anxious to help you understand and participate in your child’s education. There are also websites in Spanish/English that are helpful to many families.
- Well-meaning friends and family. Well-meaning friends, neighbors and relations may be critical and unsupportive at first. You may be told that what you are doing is not in the best interest of your child. When you see that your child doesn’t forget his native language, does learn to read in English, and does keep up with the neighborhood children, you will be assured that you made the right decision.
What will a Dual Language program look like at R. C. Haydon Elementary?
Half-day instruction in English
- English Language Arts/Reading
- Social Studies
Half-day instruction in Spanish
- Spanish Language Arts/Reading
- Spanish is the second most common language spoken in the WORLD.
- Spanish opens the doors to many domestic and international career opportunities.
- Students who learn Spanish perform better on standardized tests since more than 50% of modern-day English words trace their origins to Spanish. This means that Spanish has a relatively quick learning curve which boosts a student’s confidence.
Who can participate?
The Dual Language program seeks to enroll students of varying backgrounds and all abilities. Applications are open to all students entering Kindergarten or First grade, beginning in the 2017-18 school year. Students will be selected for the program through a lottery system.
How do I begin the enrollment process?
Please click here for information about enrolling your child in the Dual Language Program.