Last week we continued our how to be a great immersion parent series by suggesting a couple of questions to help you better understand immersion program models. In this second installment focusing on asking good questions, we want to suggest a pair of questions to help you get a sense of the relationship between traditional English programs and immersion programs housed within the same school building.
- How do teachers in the immersion program and the English program interact?
- In what ways does the school encourage students to interact across programs?
From the very beginning of addalingua’s new partner (school) pathway, schools are encouraged to set up teacher grade level teams. Our new partner education team meets with English program faculty before an immersion program launches to encourage deep understanding of immersion programs.
New immersion program faculty (whose first language is often the immersion language) flourish when mentored and embraced by existing faculty.
One of the key goals at these meetings is to emphasize the value of English program faculty as school leaders and experts. New immersion program faculty (whose first language is often the immersion language) flourish when mentored and embraced by existing faculty. This mentorship can continue throughout the year through grade level team meetings and continued unity building projects (grade level common projects, fundraising events, etc). These mentor relationships can become two-way learning opportunities as immersion teachers gain confidence, and their distinct cultures and teaching styles become part of the fabric of the school.
Students also benefit from opportunities to interact with and learn from each other across programs. School district leaders, building leaders, and teacher teams can design a schedule to support these types of cross-language experiences. Many schools use FLES classes (foreign language in the elementary school) to give all students access to some foreign language, and thus begin to bridge the language gap. Other schools intentionally schedule their field trips and specials classes so students from both programs can participate in PE, music, and art with students from other homerooms. Check out this short clip from our feature film, A Day in the Life, which illustrates how effectively this can be implemented in a school with both traditional English and immersion programs.
There are lots of creative ways that schools can encourage interaction across programs. For current parents of immersion students, feel free to leave us a note in the comment section about how your school has chosen to integrate both languages into school programs and culture.