Dual language vs Traditional Public School

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ThankYouJack
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Dual language vs Traditional Public School

Post by ThankYouJack »

Our elementary school offers a dual language program where half the day is in Spanish and the other half is in English. There's also a traditional, only English option. Our 5 year old enjoys learning, has been reading for a while and does well with math. Which option do you think would be better?
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ResearchMed
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Re: Dual language vs Traditional Public School

Post by ResearchMed »

ThankYouJack wrote: Sun Jul 29, 2018 10:31 am Our elementary school offers a dual language program where half the day is in Spanish and the other half is in English. There's also a traditional, only English option. Our 5 year old enjoys learning, has been reading for a while and does well with math. Which option do you think would be better?
I *wish* I had been introduced to foreign languages at an early age, when it is SO much easier to learn.
Also, apparently once some is really bi-lingual, it's easier to learn a third, or fourth... language.

In this day and age, with travel so common, I'd definitely go for it.

Sure, there are more and more translation devices.

But I also think that "the way things are written" in other languages can give other affect/etc., in ways that would be really good to learn. Not everyone emphasizes things the way one's native country does.

Most other countries are waaaay ahead of the USA in teaching more languages and from an early age.

Near our house, there is a "Mandarin immersion day care center". Immersion... that's the way to learn IF one can adjust...

The children go out for walks in groups, and it seems that about half are of some Asian ethnicity (does NOT mean they speak Mandarin or anything other than English at home), and about half are "not".

And bottom line, it would be nice to be brought up not thinking that the USA/English is sort of the center of the universe.
(Maybe that's just *my* upbringing, which was far too provincial in so many ways. Once I realized there was a "world out there", I was off and running... :happy )

I assume there are no cut-backs in other classes as they get older, such as math/science?

RM
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sailaway
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Re: Dual language vs Traditional Public School

Post by sailaway »

The benefits of being bilingual outstrip anything a translator can do. Bilingual individuals tend to have more advanced verbal abilities than their monolingual peers, as well as being better problem solvers and decision makers.
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dm200
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Re: Dual language vs Traditional Public School

Post by dm200 »

ThankYouJack wrote: Sun Jul 29, 2018 10:31 am Our elementary school offers a dual language program where half the day is in Spanish and the other half is in English. There's also a traditional, only English option. Our 5 year old enjoys learning, has been reading for a while and does well with math. Which option do you think would be better?
This was not available when our son was younger, but our local school system offers it and I hear very good things about it.
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dm200
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Re: Dual language vs Traditional Public School

Post by dm200 »

sailaway wrote: Sun Jul 29, 2018 11:06 am The benefits of being bilingual outstrip anything a translator can do. Bilingual individuals tend to have more advanced verbal abilities than their monolingual peers, as well as being better problem solvers and decision makers.
I am told that, initially, students may seem to be a bit slower in progress - BUT then there is a very rapid progress beyond single language.
oxothuk
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Re: Dual language vs Traditional Public School

Post by oxothuk »

My son attended a bilingual school for 3 of his elementary school years. Worked out very well.
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dm200
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Re: Dual language vs Traditional Public School

Post by dm200 »

In our jurisdiction, for these programs - they try to have half of the students come from homes where English is the primary language and have from families where Spanish if the primary language spoken at home.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Dual language vs Traditional Public School

Post by TomatoTomahto »

No question: bilingual.
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ks289
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Re: Dual language vs Traditional Public School

Post by ks289 »

sailaway wrote: Sun Jul 29, 2018 11:06 am The benefits of being bilingual outstrip anything a translator can do. Bilingual individuals tend to have more advanced verbal abilities than their monolingual peers, as well as being better problem solvers and decision makers.
This is a very interesting assertion since I am monolingual.

I do not doubt the benefits of studying and mastering two languages, but I wonder whether the association between 1) being bilingual and 2) having advanced problem solving/decision making skills is CAUSAL in this way. In other words, are those blessed with more ability or opportunity to develop skills in problem solving and decision making then going on to master two languages? Those of us who weren't as good just gave up or failed or something.
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Tycoon
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Re: Dual language vs Traditional Public School

Post by Tycoon »

ks289 wrote: Sun Jul 29, 2018 1:25 pm
sailaway wrote: Sun Jul 29, 2018 11:06 am The benefits of being bilingual outstrip anything a translator can do. Bilingual individuals tend to have more advanced verbal abilities than their monolingual peers, as well as being better problem solvers and decision makers.
This is a very interesting assertion since I am monolingual.

I do not doubt the benefits of studying and mastering two languages, but I wonder whether the association between 1) being bilingual and 2) having advanced problem solving/decision making skills is CAUSAL in this way. In other words, are those blessed with more ability or opportunity to develop skills in problem solving and decision making then going on to master two languages? Those of us who weren't as good just gave up or failed or something.
Without evidence it's just a thesis.
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psteinx
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Re: Dual language vs Traditional Public School

Post by psteinx »

My gut would tell me to put the kid in mon-lingual, unless there was an unusual reason not to.

Reasons to perhaps, prefer dual-lingual:
1) Spanish spoken at home
2) Perhaps, if not 1, heavily Spanish environment (neighborhood, extended family, etc.)
3) Living overseas in Spanish speaking area now, or likely to later in childhood
4) The Spanish program is superior for indirect reasons - more money put into it, better teachers, students, or whatever.

Barring 1-4 above, I'd go mono-lingual.

Why?
Because IMO, it's more important for most kids to get firmer foundations in reading, writing, math, and other basic skills, than to develop some Spanish language skills. There are so many hours in the day, only so much focus and attention that kids and teachers (and parents) can devote. Substantial focus on Spanish almost has to come at the expense of something else.

Is Spanish a decent skill? Sure. If it were "free" (both in terms of $$$ and time and effort) then every kid would learn it. But it's not free. And I doubt, for your typical non-Hispanic kid, that the value of improved Spanish skills is worth the cost. Remember, they can still take Spanish later (or even French, or German, or ???) if they're so inclined...

[EDIT - this post basically assumes that the family is in the United States now, except point 3 up top...]
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Re: Dual language vs Traditional Public School

Post by Lynette »

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psteinx
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Re: Dual language vs Traditional Public School

Post by psteinx »

Elementary school, in the US, is customarily about K-5 (ages 5-10, roughly). Sometimes K-4, sometimes K-6.
Lynette
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Re: Dual language vs Traditional Public School

Post by Lynette »

psteinx wrote: Sun Jul 29, 2018 3:24 pm Elementary school, in the US, is customarily about K-5 (ages 5-10, roughly). Sometimes K-4, sometimes K-6.
Thanks. In that case, I would put the child in the mono-lingual class. Without evidence, I think that the child needs to get a strong basis in their home language especially for subjects such as arithmetic and science. If the child does not continue with Spanish, I wonder how much they retain. I know children who go to a local private school. They are bilingual having taken the second language as one class for their whole school career.
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ram
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Re: Dual language vs Traditional Public School

Post by ram »

I worked in 3 different countries while my children were 0 to 12 years of age. Both of them started learning 3 languages all at almost the same time. These are the 3 languages which both of us (parents) speak fluently. It is relatively easy to learn languages at young age. They always learned science and math in English (?the universal language). During elementary school most schools teach most subjects to all students in the class at the same level (no AP level classes). If your children are reasonably good academically they can put in the extra effort to learn the languages as they are not putting a whole lot of effort to learn the other subjects.
During middle school/ high school both our kids took Spanish at the basic level and this was a 4th language for them. They however concentrated on AP level math and science.
Now as young adults they can speak 4 languages fairly well but are fluent in reading and writing English only.

I would vote for the dual language program.
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Re: Dual language vs Traditional Public School

Post by anonymousboglehead »

There are a number of factors to consider here. I recently (one year ago) graduated from a public high school with a stellar Spanish-immersion program. I started taking highly formalized Spanish classes when I was in sixth grade, and now as an 18-year-old am perfectly fluent. I say this to provide context for the following:

95% of the students in our Spanish-immersion program started taking Spanish when they were in Kindergarten. They experienced far more hours of Spanish education than I did and at a much younger age, but it was far less "official." By the time they got to high school, they could all understand and read Spanish at a very high level (certainly better than I could), but since they never learned grammar or syntax, they spoke and wrote terribly (I had friends with one year of Spanish experience who were better). What's worse, these habits have been ingrained for so long that many are now incapable of properly learning the language.

If your child is bright and able to learn things quickly, exposure at a young age is probably less important than formalized education (at least initially). If the program is semi-formalized and starts at a young age, that's the best of both worlds. Feel free to PM me with any questions; I have a lot of very recent experience with public- and private-school foreign-language education. Best of luck!

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Re: Dual language vs Traditional Public School

Post by SDLinguist »

If the goal is to have the child learn the language and retain it into adulthood without the child also having exposure outside of the learning environment (ie. At Home, in the neighborhood, in their social circles) then the effort is wasted. Unless there is exposure outside of school, even if half the schooling is in an L2 the probability of retention is minimal.

If the goal is to build academic skills then the effort is worth it. Fact is that being monolingual is the anomoly in the world. Most of the world's population is multilingual, either growing up in places where multiple languages are needed to communicate on a daily basis or learning languages as adults for work.

The research is pretty much conclusive and general academic thought is that learning multiple languages is not detrimental but actually beneficial to development.

Now whether true bilingualism exists or whether it is attainable by learning an L2 after an L1 or even what native level language competency is and how it can be measures is where the debate is.
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Re: Dual language vs Traditional Public School

Post by epilnk »

We put both of our kids in a Spanish Full Immersion elementary. Ours uses the 90/10 model, which is different from yours; it starts out being exclusively (90% max, but pretty much exclusively) in Spanish until the second semester of second grade, at which time they introduced english reading 4 hrs per week. English increased every year until by 6th grade it was 50/50. In 7th grade only history was taught in spanish, along with a regular (advanced) spanish class.

Pros and cons:

Pros:
- Excellent tight community, as is common in magnet schools.
- Out of our 9 elementary school district that feed into one high school, the conventional wisdom is that kids from the SI school are always among the highest achievers in high school, even though the SI school does not offer gifted. I've never seen any hard data to confirm that. But I currently have a sophomore and a senior and as far as I can tell it does seem to be true, and valedictorians disproportionately come from this elementary. It may be partly or mostly selection bias, since the families who chose SI most likely have other advantages.
- Bilingual is it's own advantage.

Cons:
- The kids all flunk the state standardized tests in 2nd grade. Nobody cares, since the tests are in english which is introduced just 2 months before the test. But if you care, that happens. By 6th the test scores have caught up to or surpassed other elementaries in the district.
- A 90/10 model works for kids who are bilingual at home but is not as good for kids who don't get any english in the home; it's optimized for english dominant students.
- Disability and SpEd support is weaker than most.
- No bus, at least in our town. If you choose an out of area school you are on your own. For me, this was the biggest one.

Our results: Mixed.

Kid 1 (currently entering 12th grade) is more or less bilingual. He passed the AP spanish test his first year of high school. He is nowhere near as proficient in Spanish as he thinks he is, but he can function in Spanish and effortlessly consumes Spanish language media; I don't doubt that in the right environment he could quickly pull up to true fluency. Without the need to take a language he had a great selection of high school electives, blew through the high school computer offerings, and coenrolled in a community college computer course. He is a high achieving student who could not conceivably have turned out better and he will get into a good college.

Kid 2 is dyslexic. A specialty school needs to do everything a standard school does, along with teaching the specialty. With one extra demand to fulfill, they tend not to be as good with disabilities. And the dual phonics was not helping dyslexic boy learn to read. We transferred him to an English only school for 4th grade.

I loved that school. But had I known about the dyslexia I would have made a different choice for kid 2.
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Re: Dual language vs Traditional Public School

Post by jhfenton »

I would choose the bilingual program without question for a bright, developmentally-normal child. There is nothing technical the kids are learning in primary school that will be significantly set back by bilingual education, and the advantages are enormous if they stick with it, both practically and developmentally.

And if you don't already speak Spanish, I would take the opportunity to learn with your kid in order to extend the bilingual environment into the home.

Disclaimer: I think languages are the greatest, most fun thing in the world. One of my goals in retirement is to become conversational in 10-12 languages. (I have a list.)
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ThankYouJack
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Re: Dual language vs Traditional Public School

Post by ThankYouJack »

Thanks all. We're leaning towards dual language especially after reading the responses.

I should point out that the traditional class sizes are typically ~6 students less than the dual language. Also, dual language test scores are typically lower as there's some catch up time from the traditional - but I wouldn't be too concerned about this since my child (at least currently) enjoys learning in and out of a classroom.
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Re: Dual language vs Traditional Public School

Post by Luke Duke »

My daughters (entering 5th & 2nd grades) have been in a dual-language program since Kindergarten. My son will also be in the same program with he gets older. My wife and I have been very pleased with the program. All standardized testing for my two daughters has been done in English and they have scored fairly high. I hope that they are able to continue the program all of the way through high school. This may not be possible if they attend certain magnet schools.
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dm200
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Re: Dual language vs Traditional Public School

Post by dm200 »

Credible things I read indicate that becoming proficient in multiple languages as a child has positive changes in the brains of such folks.
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Re: Dual language vs Traditional Public School

Post by FireProof »

In Luxembourg, students speak Luxembourgish at home, learn math and science etc. in French until 6th grade, then in German afterwards, and they certainly learn the subjects a lot better than Americans. So it isn't impossible to learn things in a different language. But it depends a lot on the specifics of the program, of course.

For example, in Namibia, students go to school in English all the way through, even though they don't speak it at home, and many teachers speak it very poorly, and education outcomes are very poor, significantly worse than in neighboring Botswana, which is at a similar level of development, but has native language instruction in lower grades.
Ron Ronnerson
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Re: Dual language vs Traditional Public School

Post by Ron Ronnerson »

dm200 wrote: Mon Jul 30, 2018 11:18 am Credible things I read indicate that becoming proficient in multiple languages as a child has positive changes in the brains of such folks.
I did a fair amount of research on dual immersion programs for my master's degree in education. A lot of what I read very much stressed your point. I've been an elementary school teacher at a public school for the past 15 years and would seriously consider a dual immersion program for my own daughter when she is old enough (she's still in preschool).
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