Spanish language immersion for toddler

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coalcracker
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Spanish language immersion for toddler

Post by coalcracker » Fri Jul 12, 2013 5:43 am

We are expecting our first child later this year, and have been looking at day cares (ugh). I knew it would be expensive, but I did not anticipate the variety of choices and child care philsophies available, not to mention the variable policies of "wait lists".

Mostly because of the wait list issues, we have been thinking even farther ahead to toddler/pre-K days. One program in our area offers complete spanish language immersion beginning at 18 months through pre-K. We would love Baby Genderneutral to be fluent in a foreign language, and this would seem a great opportunity. FYI my wife and I are NOT fluent in a foreign language, I got as far as high school level Spanish and we both did high school German.

Does anyone have experience with programs like this?

On the school's website, they claim it's designed for non-Spanish speaking households, but would we need to learn passable Espanol to make it worthwhile?

-CC

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bottlecap
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Re: Spanish language immersion for toddler

Post by bottlecap » Fri Jul 12, 2013 8:19 am

I'd forget Spanish. Look for Chinese.

JT

Dave76
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Re: Spanish language immersion for toddler

Post by Dave76 » Fri Jul 12, 2013 8:32 am

bottlecap wrote:I'd forget Spanish. Look for Chinese.

JT
If the year was 1988, you would have said Japanese. :)

I'd go with either French, German, Greek, or Latin.

Spirit Rider
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Re: Spanish language immersion for toddler

Post by Spirit Rider » Fri Jul 12, 2013 9:50 am

I disagree with the previous posters. Yes, there are more Chinese speakers than Spanish speakers in the world, but Spanish is the most practical second language for Americans. If they become fluent in Spanish, then the other Romance languages are far easier to learn.

One thing to keep in mind, both a positive and possibly a negative. Kids who learn languages pre-school will have a strong accent influence of their teachers. This is compared to people who learn at a later age will have an accent determined by their native language.

So, does the school teach a dialect from Spain, Mexico, the Carribean, Latin America, or a blend of speakers. It may not matter to you, but it is something to consider. There can also be slight differences in the grammar and word definitions can vary. Consider those who have English as a Second Language. Their "English" is dependent on whether they learned from British, Australian/New Zealand, or American speakers.

P.S. I think it a great idea. Being Bi-lingual/Multi-lingual is nice gift to your children.

Dave76
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Re: Spanish language immersion for toddler

Post by Dave76 » Fri Jul 12, 2013 9:59 am

Fair enough. I think it is best to learn from an Argentine. The Mexican stripe doesn't sound as nice.

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Rainier
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Re: Spanish language immersion for toddler

Post by Rainier » Fri Jul 12, 2013 10:03 am

Do you have any connection to learning Spanish? If not go for a different language. My kids go to Chinese immersion Preschool.

Although, if there are no other alternatives do the Spanish. It is so easy for them to learn a language at that, it would be a waste not to.

bungalow10
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Re: Spanish language immersion for toddler

Post by bungalow10 » Fri Jul 12, 2013 10:05 am

I had a bi-lingual daycare as a child. At the time it was a Hispanic woman who did our childcare and spoke to us (and we responded) in Spanish. It was nice, I remember more about her amazing cooking than I do about the Spanish.

In grade school, starting in first grade, we had Spanish class. In the few years I had no Spanish, I forgot all of it. After about fifth grade, we no longer had Spanish class.

In high school I took four years of Spanish. Again, I had forgotten all of it. By the end of high school, I was speaking pretty well and could understand almost anything.

Then in college I didn't take Spanish until my senior year (three year gap). I started right with intermediate Spanish and struggled to pull in an A. I had to work hard, but I did well both semesters and felt like I had my Spanish skills back and promised I wouldn't let them lapse again.

And I let them lapse again. I swore I wouldn't, but I did and now I'm back to zero.

Summary: My experience is it's only worth it if you plan to stick with it.
An elephant for a dime is only a good deal if you need an elephant and have a dime.

Rupert
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Re: Spanish language immersion for toddler

Post by Rupert » Fri Jul 12, 2013 10:16 am

I think you'll need to speak English at home if you enroll your child in this program since the goal is to make your kid bilingual. So there's probably no need for you to learn Spanish unless you just want to. If you choose this program, don't be surprised if your child starts speaking later than normal. Kids who grow up in bilingual households often experience a temporary developmental language delay. The brain has to work a little harder than normal to process the two languages or something (I'm obviously no expert). If I recall the studies correctly, bilingual kids typically catch up with their peers before starting kindergarten.

I chose not to enroll my kids in an immersion program but they have been taking Spanish since 18 months old. Most competitive elementary schools these days start teaching foreign languages in K5 or first grade. So you may be helping prepare your kid for that. I believe my kids, when they start grade school, will be taking two years of French followed by 3 years of Spanish followed by Latin in sixth grade. They get to pick a language starting in 7th grade and continue with it through highschool. This is a vast improvement, IMHO, over the two years of Spanish I was offered in highschool. My, admittedly rudimentary, understanding of these preschool and early elementary-school programs is that their goal is to prepare your child's brain to learn foreign languages. It won't necessarily make your child bilingual for life unless, as a PP said, you really stick with it.

MN Finance
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Re: Spanish language immersion for toddler

Post by MN Finance » Fri Jul 12, 2013 10:50 am

I asked my parents their opinion when our oldest was about to enter kindergarten, as we live 1/2 mile from one of the more well respected Spanish and Chinese emersion schools in the city. They spent 35 years in public education. Careful to give advice, they said, " that's a great idea son (pause) if you want them to learn Spanish."

We picked english. While evidence is all over the place, our experience with our kids and their friends in the school is that for a few years the emersion kids lag behind in English development. Ex: our son's best friend (in Spanish) ended up in an advanced math class with my son (in English). His friend got a bit frustrated now having to communicate in English (wanting to use the Spanish equivalent for "even" "odd" "obtuse" etc). After a few years it all evens out, but I can see some (fairly innocuous) challenges early on. Though it's pretty fun when a group of 7 years olds is playing on the playground or riding in the car and communicating entirely in Spanish. What I've noticed is that today (vs when I was a kid) Spanish is everywhere. So while my kids wont be fluent, they learned to count to 10 or name the colors of the rainbow in Spanish nearly as quickly as English - thanks to Dora and Sesame St and the other 100 kids speaking Spanish in the lunch room.

KyleAAA
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Re: Spanish language immersion for toddler

Post by KyleAAA » Fri Jul 12, 2013 11:05 am

Spanish over Chinese on practical considerations. The US is only going to get more hispanic in the coming decades, not less. It's predicted hispanics will be the majority at some point this century. Chinese is unlikely to be nearly as helpful.

vveat
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Re: Spanish language immersion for toddler

Post by vveat » Fri Jul 12, 2013 11:18 am

I couldn't agree more with the "sticking with it" point - whether it is to find a program that is available throughout pre-school up to high school, or to learn the language yourself and have forced "practicing" or to take the child abroad (to countries with the right language) regularly and not just for a few days. Keep in mind also that the kids natural preference is for the language they use with their peers - even though we speak our native language at home, both our children (a kindergartner and a preschooler) almost always respond in English. We've seen it with the kids of all our friends, some enforce the home language rule more strongly, some (like us) are a bit lax. So, even with the immersion program, if your kid plays with your neighbors' kids, or your friends' kids who speak English, talks with you in English and watches movies in English, it will be difficult to get to the right level in the other language, you'll have to be very committed. I do think brushing up on your high school Spanish so that you at least are able to judge how well everything is going, will come useful

I moved to the US 13 years ago. At the time I spoke French fairly fluently (I worked for a French company), but since I came I have had zero opportunity to practice it, so on the rare occasions when I go to France I struggle to make myself understood, it's so rusty. So even if you achieve a language mastery, practice is still needed.

It's difficult to predict which language will be more useful, but unless you have a family or work connection to China I would say with Spanish you at least have more opportunities here to expose your child to the language for practice. By the way, I studied Spanish a bit here with a Colombian teacher, and a colleague who is Mexican was making fun of some of the words she taught me. And we had a house guest who speaks Spain Spanish and he had sometimes difficulty talking with our babysitter, who is from Ecuador. So the teacher origin feels important as other people commented, but I am not sure you can possibly influence that for the immersion program.

YttriumNitrate
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Re: Spanish language immersion for toddler

Post by YttriumNitrate » Fri Jul 12, 2013 11:22 am

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jon-nyc
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Re: Spanish language immersion for toddler

Post by jon-nyc » Sun Jul 14, 2013 4:06 am

No direct experience with a bilingual school, but we intentionally hired a spanish-speaking nanny for our son right after he was born. She spoke to him in both English and Spanish. He just turned 4, and while he's not fluent by any means when it comes to speaking, he understands a lot and his accent is great. I think we could have advanced him into fluency if we had insisted she speak nothing but Spanish, but overall we were happy with how it has gone.

Our local school system starts rudimentary Spanish instruction in K or 1st, can't remember which. I imagine I'll still have someone come a couple times a week to our house to 'play with him in Spanish' since he'll be far beyond the bulk of the kids in those early language classes.

Another thing we've done is buy the most popular children's books in both English and Spanish. It really helps their comprehension after a while. Basically all the classics are available in both languages. Of course this assumes you're able to read the Spanish books yourself - but if your goal is to develop some level of skill as well, its not a bad exercise.

Bob's not my name
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Re: Spanish language immersion for toddler

Post by Bob's not my name » Sun Jul 14, 2013 7:58 am

boglehead debates on language are always entertaining. I recommend any other language over Spanish on practical considerations. Spanish is so commonplace now that learning it even fluently gives you no particular competitive advantage in the job market. For the same reason it won't be as culturally enriching to learn it as your first "foreign" language. Our kids took Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and French, in some cases in an immersion context. An alternative approach is to learn no language at all, not even English, and get a job as a journalist turning out gems like this:
That Lincecum was at 138 pitches to start the ninth was of little consequence to he or manager Bruce Bochy.
... or you could be a baseball manager and say things like this:
"He wouldn't have talked to me the rest of the year," said Bochy, "if I'd have taken him out."
... so since English, like Latin, is apparently a dead language, maybe Spanish isn't such a bad plan.

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Ged
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Re: Spanish language immersion for toddler

Post by Ged » Sun Jul 14, 2013 9:54 am

I think training in a second language at a young age is a great idea. I wish I had been exposed to it that way. I did have 4 years of French in high school which I hated at the time. Eventually though it turned out to be useful. I spent some time working for a French owned company in the US, and they put on some French lessons for me. What I learned in High School mostly came back. I ended up getting some travel to France on business because of it. I won't say it helped my career but it did enrich my life.

My wife though is in a whole other league. She grew up in South America as a grandchild of British ex-pats. Her childhood household, as you might imagine, was fully bilingual. She was home-schooled by her mother, who was an English teacher, until secondary school. Her secondary and college education was in Spanish. She became an English Lit major in college. From this she won scholarships to study abroad and picked up 3 additional languages during graduate studies in Europe. By the time I met her she was an English Lit PhD candidate in the US with ability to speak 5 languages. When visiting her family I am in awe of how language agnostic they are. Their English is at a much better standard than what is spoken (or taught) in the US. My friends used to tease me about my girlfriend from South America being able to speak English better than I do.

Many in her family have careers related to their language skills. Two of her sisters work as professional translators. One is an employee of the Australian embassy in Chile.

Most Americans have no realization as to how primitive their language skills are.

Leemiller
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Re: Spanish language immersion for toddler

Post by Leemiller » Sun Jul 14, 2013 10:53 am

Bob's not my name wrote:boglehead debates on language are always entertaining. I recommend any other language over Spanish on practical considerations. Spanish is so commonplace now that learning it even fluently gives you no particular competitive advantage in the job market. For the same reason it won't be as culturally enriching to learn it as your first "foreign" language. Our kids took Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and French, in some cases in an immersion context. An alternative approach is to learn no language at all, not even English, and get a job as a journalist turning out gems like this:
That Lincecum was at 138 pitches to start the ninth was of little consequence to he or manager Bruce Bochy.
... or you could be a baseball manager and say things like this:
"He wouldn't have talked to me the rest of the year," said Bochy, "if I'd have taken him out."
... so since English, like Latin, is apparently a dead language, maybe Spanish isn't such a bad plan.
I agree. The market is flooded with fluent bilingual speakers.

And also agree with the comment that several years ago the language to learn would have been Japanese.

We're thinking of a second language, but haven't decided which yet. French is a strong contender since I speak it (conversationally at best). Italian is also a possibility since I've actually seen it benefit friends who spoke it since the market doesn't have as many Italian speakers.

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Macmungo
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Re: Spanish language immersion for toddler

Post by Macmungo » Sun Jul 14, 2013 10:59 am

Spanish has as many different accents as English. For example, outside Castile a Castilian accent used to be perceived in the way an American would have heard upper-class English. I was taught to speak with an "educated" Mexican accent, which served me well in Mexico, Spain and other places. Alas, I use French (learned as an adult) more than Spanish and my friends tell me my accent in French sounds like that of a poor migrant Hispanic worker. Check the accent of the teachers.

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ladders11
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Re: Spanish language immersion for toddler

Post by ladders11 » Sun Jul 14, 2013 12:27 pm

The problem with Spanish is that the people who come here from other countries have more incentive and practice with English than any English native will have with Spanish, unless they move to a Spanish speaking country (or LA or Miami).

It is hard to imagine really benefiting from Spanish fluency in a white-collar career, since these jobs require English.

Spanish would be useful for customer-service. It is just a little far-fetched to be able to keep in practice without speaking Spanish on a daily / or at least weekly basis, throughout life - so this requires friends who only speak Spanish. You don't just learn it and never forget like riding a bike.

I think it is appropriate for (ex-Miami, ex-LA) Americans to only speak English given the geographic realities of our country. There is lots of hand-wringing about our lack of multi-lingualism, but most people don't ever leave the country, so they're well served by their first language.

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Ged
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Re: Spanish language immersion for toddler

Post by Ged » Sun Jul 14, 2013 1:15 pm

ladders11 wrote: I think it is appropriate for (ex-Miami, ex-LA) Americans to only speak English given the geographic realities of our country. There is lots of hand-wringing about our lack of multi-lingualism, but most people don't ever leave the country, so they're well served by their first language.
This survey says 78% of Americans have visited a foreign country.

https://corporate.livingsocial.com/inth ... ticles/174

I think the fact of the matter is that since the US has a decreasing share of the world economy, foreign language proficiency is becoming more important over time.

halfnine
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Re: Spanish language immersion for toddler

Post by halfnine » Sun Jul 14, 2013 1:57 pm

vveat wrote:It's difficult to predict which language will be more useful, but unless you have a family or work connection to China .....
We have both family and work connections in China and still think learning Mandarin/Cantonese is pretty worthless from that perspective for our children. I mean sure, it's possible it could lead to a career, but the reality is small especially relative to the time and effort put in.

The reason our kids will be bilingual will be so that they can talk to their grandparents, understand part of their culture, and also because theoretically it helps with how the brain gets wired and one's ability to make/recognize different sounds when started before 9 months old.

Pacific
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Re: Spanish language immersion for toddler

Post by Pacific » Sun Jul 14, 2013 2:21 pm

I am confused. If they are toddlers, shouldn't they be learning English first? -- I mean, like 24/7?

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Watty
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Re: Spanish language immersion for toddler

Post by Watty » Sun Jul 14, 2013 2:43 pm

When speaking excellent Spanish is critical there are lots of Americans who grew up in a Spanish speaking household and learned English as a second language. They would likely have an edge on someone that learned Spanish as a second language even if they spoke it well so you need to be realistic about how useful that might be.

One of the things I have run into in my travels is that it is always a good idea to pick up enough of the local language to be polite and ask simple questions but when it gets to really talking with someone about something serious it is truly amazing how many people in the world have studied English since it is so widely used.

Often you will find that you would need to be very proficient in whatever language you chose to learn since not only do you need to speak it well enough to be understood but you also need to speak their language better than they speak English.

Speaking English is not only used for doing business with Americans but it is the international language of business. I have overheard things like a Greek and a German talking about something and their common language is English so they use that. This is why there is such an emphases on learning English around the world.

The difference in the English dialects (like American, British, Australian, Indian, etc) are also relatively minor and while you might recognize that someone is speaking a different English dialect, they should be very understandable which makes it good for international communication.

Speaking a second language is of course a good thing and there are lots of time it can be critical but I think that the effort might be spent with a pre-school learning other skills.

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