1. What is a foreign language immersion program?
Language immersion is a method of teaching a second language. Instead of teaching the second language as a distinct subject, immersion teachers use the second language as the mode of instruction for the curriculum. In an immersion program, children learn the second language in the same natural way they learned their first language, before the developmental window for language acquisition closes.
2. Why should I consider a foreign language immersion program for my child?
Learning a second language has innumerable benefits on a child’s life. Children who learn a second language early in life benefit, not only through being bilingual, but also by increased cognitive development, improved complex problem solving skills, enhanced listening skills, and greater intellectual flexibility. It increases creativity and enhances verbal and mathematical skills. These skills contribute profoundly to a child’s self-esteem. In addition, it helps prepare a child to compete in the global economy, and for life in the multi-lingual world of the 21st century.
3. What happens in a typical classroom day?
In the Biltmore Prep 50/50 Model, students spend 50% of their day learning content in English and 50% of their day learning content in Spanish. Each grade has two teachers in separate classrooms, one who teaches in Spanish and the other who teaches in English. Students spend the morning in one classroom, and switch to the other classroom after lunch. If they had Spanish instruction in the morning, they will have English instruction in the afternoon, and vice versa.
4. Will I be able to help my child with homework if I don’t speak Spanish?
Many homework assignments are provided in both languages so parents understand the assignment and can assist their child. Teachers will communicate regularly and are available for questions. Parents are asked to continue reinforcing English language development skills at home by reading and discussing books with their child.
5. How do students perform academically compared to peers who are not in a language immersion program?
Research has consistently shown that beyond the second year of language learning, foreign language immersion students develop skills that help them perform as well or better than their monolingual peers.
6. How can I enroll my child in the Foreign Language Program?
For the upcoming academic year, registration packets may be picked up from the Biltmore Prep office and should be completed and returned as soon as possible. To the extent space is available, children from outside the school boundaries may be admitted through open enrollment. We are taking names for a waiting list for students who will start in subsequent years.
7. How late do you admit new students into the program?
Because language immersion education is cumulative, it may be difficult for children to begin the program after the conclusion of the first grade. However, if space is available, new students will be accepted until the start of 1st semester in the 2nd grade. After that date, if space is available, students will be accepted on an individual basis after interviews with the Spanish immersion teachers and administrators to make sure it will be a successful fit for all.
8. Is there a preschool immersion program?
Yes, the private preschool immersion program is called “Little Big Minds” and is run by Pilar Kelley, who holds a Masters in Bilingual Education. It is an 80/20 Spanish immersion program located on Biltmore Prep campus for ages 2 through 5 (pre-kindergarten). Please contact Pilar at firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to www.littlebigmindspreschool.com for enrollment information.
9. Are there policies for sibling or preschool priority?
Yes, the priority policy is only valid for the incoming kindergarten classes. Once a class has been established, the student will no longer have priority. The priority policy offers automatic entry in the program to:
- Students who have siblings already in the immersion program.
- Students who were enrolled in the preschool immersion program.
10. Can the students learn another language in addition to Spanish?
In the next few years, we would like to offer a third language (Chinese) as an elective to our middle school students.
11. How quickly will my child begin speaking Spanish?
There may be an initial adjustment, or “silent” period as children begin listening to the new language. A combination of activities, including singing and games, help children feel comfortable and competent in the program and they typically begin speaking by the second grade.
12. Is there a fee for the program?
No, as a public school, enrollment into the program is free. However, as a program of choice, the school does ask each family to make a commitment to volunteer a minimum of 20 hours per year.