Experience with immersion schools/programs?
Thread poster: Daina Jauntirans

Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:56
German to English
+ ...
Jun 6, 2005

Hi,

We are a family living in the US. Our languages are LV, EN, DE - mom speaks LV to kids, dad speaks EN, mom and dad speak EN to each other. Obviously, I'm a DE>EN translator, but this language isn't used in the home otherwise.

We just found out that our daughter got accepted into a "two-way immersion" program (Spanish/English). Half of the class consists of English-speaking kids and the other half of Spanish-speaking kids. There is probably some overlap with the languages, too, although our daughter does not know any Spanish yet. She will be in this program from kindergarten to 5th grade.

I have a couple of questions for those of you who have participated in such programs -

* What's the best way for my husband and me to keep up with her Spanish learning? Any suggestions for good beginners' Spanish books? Neither of us speaks any at all. We would like to learn along with her and will be looking into some family classes or something like that.

* What about her other language, Latvian? She was quite resistant to it in the past, and it's been a real struggle to get her to relative fluency. I think I probably need to look at the larger picture and realize that since the class will be Spanish-only, she'll need a few months to get used to it, during which time her Latvian might suffer. Hopefully she'll bounce back, though.

* Any other comments or advice concerning immersion programs?

Thanks!
Daina


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 13:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
The parents' language Jun 6, 2005

Daina Jauntirans wrote:

* What about her other language, Latvian? She was quite resistant to it in the past, and it's been a real struggle to get her to relative fluency. I think I probably need to look at the larger picture and realize that since the class will be Spanish-only, she'll need a few months to get used to it, during which time her Latvian might suffer. Hopefully she'll bounce back, though.



I believe that in the long run, the most important thing you can do in this respect is to keep on talking to her in Latvian in a matter-of-fact way even if she doesn't answer back in the same language. Don't slide into answering her in English (or whichever language she addresses you in) and don't enter into a power struggle insisting that she speak Latvian, or the language could become a burden and an obligation which she will resist. By continuing to speak it, you will at least maintain her passive knowledge. This is much easier to convert into active knowledge than if you give up and let it fade away.

My children started school in French immersion in (English) Canada, and it was interesting to note that for a majority of their classmates, French was not the 2nd but the 3rd language for these children. They spoke their immigrant parents' language at home and English outside the home, followed by French at school. So it can be done.


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Marta Argat  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:56
Chinese to Ukrainian
+ ...
2 years later Jul 23, 2007

Dear Daina,
I am sorry to see you haven't get much feedback here, but could you share your and your daughter's experience now, 2 years after you have asked this question?


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:56
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Going well Jul 23, 2007

Thanks, Marta! It's actually going well. My daughter has completed two years of the TWI program. Her Spanish is coming along nicely, and she reads fluently in English and well in Spanish. Latvian is always a struggle, but we continue to participate in as many cultural activities as possible. A friend just sent us a bunch of Latvian DVDs, so now we can actually watch cartoons in Latvian (more like artful animated pieces than Sat. morning cartoons here in the States - really wonderful!)

As for my husband and me, we took Spanish classes last year, but due to his academic schedule were unable to continue. We're trying to learn some on our own and will be taking the whole family to Mexico in the fall.

I would encourage anyone to place their children in a language immersion program, particularly here in the United States, where it's a rare privilege to do so!


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