Language Immersion: A Learning Journey from Nursery through Grade 5

Jennette Mullaney

 

Students in Avenues’ language immersion program, which extends from nursery through 5th grade, spend half their time in an English-speaking classroom and the other half in a Spanish- or Mandarin-speaking classroom. The teachers in these partner classrooms coordinate on complementary curricula for their students. For example, if students are learning about angles in their English-speaking math period, they are learning about them in Spanish too—and expanding their vocabulary along the way. As Avenues language specialist Julie Yankowitz explains, “We teach language through content, and we teach content through language.”

Another key aspect of the program is an emphasis on speaking. “Our goal in immersion is to always have the students talking,” says 5th grade head teacher Raina Gilchrist. Students don’t just write biographies in Mandarin, they deliver monologues in Mandarin. By the time they reach 5th grade immersion students no longer have to think before speaking in their target language. “It just comes to me; it just clicks,” observes Ransom, a 5th grader who has been in our immersion program since pre-kindergarten. See our video above to learn more about how Avenues approaches language immersion.

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