Let’s take a look into the window of P1, one of our Spanish Immersion classrooms.
“Hola, como estas?” (Hi, how are you?) “Por favor” (Please), “Gracias” (Thank you) are a few of the common Spanish phrases heard in our classroom as we begin our day together. “Uno, dos, tres” (one, two, three) can be heard as the children count in Spanish. “Por favor, venga al circulo, no mas trabajo,” (please come to circle, no more work) is an example of the daily instructions our students hear as they experience the Spanish language in a natural and routine manner.
We have found that singing in Spanish is also an easy and enjoyable way for the children to hear the rhythm of the language. The children work with exclusive Spanish language materials in learning how to identify objects and pictures in Spanish. They do this by learning how to pronounce, spell and associate the concepts in the Spanish language. The Montessori math materials are also taught in Spanish, once the concepts are learned in English. — From the P1 Blog
Spanish Immersion is an optional program for ages 3 through third grade that is designed to provide students with a solid foundation for bilingualism. Half of all lessons are given in Spanish and one classroom support teacher speaks only in Spanish, creating a native-like environment. Conversing, singing and doing works in Spanish is a fun and natural way to acquire bilingual fluency and cultural understanding. Research suggests that learning languages at earlier ages and over longer periods of time supports second-language acquisition (Tochon, 2009). Benefits include:
- Increased ability to control attention and keep information in memory, better awareness of language structure and vocabulary, and improved skills in creative thinking and problem solving (Adesope, Lavin, Thompson, and Ungerleider, 2010).
- Bilingual students attain higher levels of achievement on standardized tests in reading, writing, social studies, and math, and report higher levels of self-confidence (Tochon, 2009).
- Students in “50-50” language-immersion schools, in which students spend half of their day learning in a nonnative language, perform as well as, or better than, students in monolingual schools on standardized tests, and these benefits extend to English-language learners as well as native English speakers (Gómez, Freeman, and Freeman, 2005; Palmer, 2009; Thomas and Collier, 2002).
- Learning a second language not only has cognitive and academic benefits, it also supports a greater sense of openness to — and appreciation for — other cultures and improves opportunities for cross-cultural friendships and employment (Tochon, 2009).