There are many methods to learning a new language. At Le Monde, we use the immersion education model, which involves teaching the regular curriculum standards in the target language. Depending on the grade level, 50-100% of a student’s instruction is in Spanish or French! Over the months and years they spend in their program, they come to build proficiency not only in grade level skills, but also in listening, speaking, reading and writing in a new language.
Research shows that children, especially young children, are very receptive to learning language. Conversation, daily routines, songs, books and calendar time in classroom spaces are great opportunities to learn new vocabulary. As their familiarity and comfort level improves, students begin to use their first words and phrases for themselves. Typically immersion learners begin to show listening comprehension just weeks after beginning school, and speaking the language comes a few months later. Just as we learn to talk in our native language by listening first, then using 1-2 word phrases before moving on to more complex sentences, we watch our Spanish and French learners move through similar stages.
Our students also learn to read and write in the target language, with the goal of biliteracy as well as bilingualism. All the vocabulary they build in PreK and Kindergarten is essential to comprehending words on the page, and reading in the language, in turn, increases their vocabulary. As linguist Stephen Krashen notes, “People acquiring a second language have the best chance of success through reading.” Many of the skills of reading and writing are shared between languages, so we expect students to perform well in English reading and writing tasks as well, especially as they reach the upper grades.
The benefits of learning a new language are many and lifelong. If you would like more information about our school program and how it might benefit your child, please feel free to contact us!