Children have flourished in their Immersion classrooms that were initiated in the fall of 2011, and our upcoming academic year will continue full time Spanish and Mandarin Immersion as part of a Dual Language classrooms. Two teachers will alternate teaching core curriculum in each language, providing the perfect opportunity for children to excel in both languages as they learn from a teacher whose first language is English and a second teacher whose first language is Spanish or Mandarin. Ample research indicates that cognitive advantages occur beyond language acquisition to excelling in critical and creative thinking skills across multiple subject areas.
Dual Immersion Academic Goals
The majority of children in the Kindergarten Dual language classroom speak English as a first language. The primary academic goal will be to support Kindergarten core objectives in English and supplement activities in Spanish or Mandarin on a daily basis. Children will work on class activities in both their second language and English; one teacher will speak in English and the other will speak primarily Spanish or Mandarin in the classroom; language arts and mathematics instructional materials will be available in both English and the second language.
Academic Research Supports the Dual Language Classroom
Dancing Moose is not introducing a new concept with its Dual Language classroom, but it is certainly taking advantage of the momentum of quality programs around the country that are capitalizing on children’s enhanced creativity and analytical thinking in a Dual Language program. Virginia P. Collier and Wayne P. Thomas, noted researchers in Dual Language programs, have documented that children exposed to a second language learn at a more rapid rate. Bilingual researcher Ellen Bialystok of York University in Toronto stated that “several studies have linked bilingualism to improved working memory, which is associated with reading and math skills.”
In research conducted at Nanjing University in China, bilingual seven-year-old children outperformed their monolingual peers on two working memory tests—one requiring them to recall and rearrange a series of numbers and the other to retrace a pattern of hops made my an animated frog on a computer screen. Researchers say that the best way to become proficient in a second language is to start young and practice often (Scientific American Mind, July/August, 2011).
Kindergarten is an ideal time for children to begin to experience the advantages of Dual Language instruction, and we look forward to continuing our Dual Language Classrooms at Dancing Moose this fall.