What Is an Immersion School? And is it Right for YOUR Child?

Would you like your child to learn a second language? Maybe you think having a second language would give them sophistication and make them more cultured. Or maybe you want them to have a job market advantage years down the line.

There are other benefits as well. While it won’t necessarily make your child smarter, research indicates that bilingualism can improve the executive function of the brain‘s frontal lobe. Executive function serves as a brain manager, helping to “manage time, pay attention, switch focus, plan and organize, remember details, draw on our experience and avoid bad behavior and speech”. Simply put, executive function helps to get things done.

When it comes to learning a second language, an immersion school or program might be a viable option for your child.

How do immersion programs work?

Unlike a traditional foreign language course, where students may learn a new language for only part of the school day and through partial use of their native language, students enrolled in an immersion school are quite literally immersed in their new language; a majority or all of their instruction will be in their chosen language. Your child won’t just speak Spanish or French when building his or her new language skills—he or she will also learn about general education topics, like fractions and the Civil War, in a second language. Parents often choose immersive environments because continuous exposure to a new language, particularly before the age of 12, can help children quickly understand a new language, not unlike how they learned to speak English. Children may still achieve near-fluency through a foreign language class in a traditional school, but an immersion school can accelerate the process.

What are the pros and cons of a dual language immersion program?

… This all sounds great, but if transitioning children to immersion programs were a cakewalk, everyone would be doing it. The most obvious obstacle is your—the parent’s—language proficiency. If you help with homework or otherwise actively engage your child in learning, your role may change if you don’t speak the language of the program your child is learning in. If you enroll your student in an immersion school, you may want to consider brushing up on language skills, too. Luckily, many educational—and fun!—resources are available, including books, language-learning software, and word games—even the occasional foreign soap opera.

Read the rest of the article at the original source, Parents.com


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