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160 Isabel Street East
St. Paul


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Dual Immersion

Welcome to the dual immersion program at Riverview. Your dedication to and enthusiasm for the program makes all the difference in the world. Parents who are dedicated to a bilingual program encourage their children; the children succeed.

Bilingual education has a long history. Research has shown that students in dual immersion programs will, over time, perform better on standardized tests than their friends who learn in only one language. It does take time and effort to get those results.

We have been asked some common questions. Here are some of those questions and their answers.

What is a dual immersion program?

A dual language program is bilingual education at its best. Children are taught to read, write, speak and listen in both Spanish and English. They are also taught other subjects in both languages. Dual immersion programs seek to enroll an equal number of native English speakers and Spanish speakers and they work together for all or most of the school day. In this model, all students have the opportunity to be both first language models and second language learners.

Our program focuses on Spanish literacy (reading, writing, speaking and listening) in the early years with English and Spanish being used equally from 3rd through 5th grade.

When are students expected to respond to the teacher in the language they are learning?

They begin to do so the very first day! Most children in the United States have had some exposure to Spanish and English. The teachers are very effective at drawing out even very reluctant speakers to respond or use basic words.

What about homework?

Homework will follow the same language as the class lessons. If the lesson is in Spanish, homework will be in Spanish. Homework will be explained and modeled in class before students take it home. Students should have a very good understanding of what they are to do before they get home. Students will be given more than one day to complete their homework so they can ask for help at school the next day if they do not understand something. Students could also call a friend. Parents can call other parents or call their child’s teacher at school.

Why doesn't the teacher speak any English during Spanish time or Spanish during English time?

Research on immersion and foreign language learning shows that students acquire a more solid grounding in the language and eventually become more proficient in their second language when their first language is not used for translation. Teachers use many ways to communicate when students do not understand the words: actions, pictures, modeling, …

How can my child talk in class if the teacher doesn't respond in his or her language?

The teacher uses one exclusively, but the child will, of course, begin by asking and speaking only in the language he or she knows. An example is asking to use the restroom. The child will ask, "May I go to the bathroom?" The teacher responds, "Sí, puedes ir al baño," pointing to the restroom pass and the door. The child then takes the pass and goes to the door. Gradually, the child picks up the phrase from the teacher and from other students. In addition, the basic phrases are taught in reading and group time lessons.

What do I have to think about before I enroll my child in a dual immersion program?

Are you planning to move soon?

Children who start a dual immersion program need to stick with it through 5th grade in order for them to receive the benefits of learning two languages. While no one knows what life might bring, if you know that you are planning on moving soon, a bilingual classroom is probably not right for you.

Are you comfortable with second languages and cultures?

There will be times when you will not understand the homework. There might be times at a meeting when you have to wait to hear something in English. There will be ways of interacting that you might not understand. If you like the idea of learning along with your son or daughter and you don’t mind asking questions when you don’t understand, this program is probably a good fit for you.

Does the idea of your daughter or son learning to read and write in Spanish before learning in English make you nervous or excite you?

Our program teaches reading and writing in Spanish in kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade. Although students are speaking English from the first day and some of their classes are in English, we do not teach English reading and writing until the middle of second grade. How does that make you feel?

Immersion education, as with all education, is a collaboration between home and school.

Immersion education requires the active involvement of the parents to support the language they know best. Immersion parents read with their children, ask them questions and listen to them so that their vocabulary continues to grow. We can only know in one language what we know in the other.

How can I help my child and how can I help the program?

  • Read, write, speak and listen to your child as much as you can, in the language you know best. The more children know in one language, the more they will know in the other language.
  • Encourage your child in his or her language learning by asking questions and being interested in the conversation that develops.
  • Make sure your child comes to school everyday ready to learn.
  • Participate in Dual Language Nights at school (dates will be announced later).
  • Tell other parents about the program.
  •  Volunteer to help at school or in your child’s classroom.