Spanish Immersion/ FLES Program
Spanish Immersion/ FLES Program
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a Spanish Language Immersion Program?
A: Spanish Immersion students follow the same curriculum that is taught in all other classrooms. Spanish is the medium through which students are taught, not the object of instruction. Students develop native-like fluency in reading, writing, speaking and listening in Spanish. They also learn to think in a second language, which is a very high-level skill. All classes are taught in Spanish in grades K-2 and formal English instruction begins in grade 3 (see the chart at the end of this FAQ ).
Q: Do I need to know Spanish to have my child in the program? How will I help them with homework?
A: You do not need to know Spanish. The homework instructions are provided in both English and Spanish and are reviewed in class to ensure understanding.
A graduate’s view: “I feel as if I have become a much more independent learner because from Kindergarten on I had to do my own homework - I could not rely on my parents to do it for me and I learned how to rely on myself and on my teachers.”
A parent’s view: “The program has helped my child become a stronger student as they took responsibility for understanding the assignments and ownership for completing their work without my help every step of the way.”
A teacher’s view: “I think it is wonderful when parents take an interest in the language as well and allow the children to be their teachers. This strengthens the student’s confidence and helps them appreciate the value of having a second language”.
Q: What will happen to my child's skills in English, in particular their ability to read English?
A: Your child’s ability to communicate in English will remain unaffected. Remember, your child lives in an English-speaking world. They will begin formal English reading instruction in the third grade and most of the skills learned in Spanish are transferrable to English.
A parent’s view: Be aware while your child is learning to read and write in Spanish they may lag in reading and writing in English for a brief period. As a parent of four children we experienced this however all of the children were able to succeed in both Spanish and English. Patience is worth it!
Q: I would like my child to learn a second language, is Spanish the best choice?
A: The benefits of learning a second language, any second language, are universal. (See benefits section of our Informational brochure included in this packet or on our website.)
A parent’s view: While the language of choice is an individual decision, the M-U school only offers one immersion language at this time. Spanish is a Romance language of the same roots as French, Italian, Portuguese. These languages share many commonalities and your child will likely find it much easier to learn these – or additional languages - in the future.
Q: If my child is learning in Spanish, will this adversely impact their score on standardized testing? Will they take standard tests (i.e., MCAS) in Spanish or English?
A: Immersion students typically score in the proficient and/or advanced area on the MCAS testing. Students must take the tests in English per the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Q: Will my child be disadvantaged by being with the same classmates year after year?
A: Generally speaking, we have not found this to be so.
A graduate’s view: “We actually enjoyed being with the same 25 students in our elementary classes and in our Spanish classes at the middle and high school. We felt as if we were ‘family’. We enjoyed our other friends in community programs (sports, etc.)
A parent’s view: "I had this concern; until I realized that school is only one place my child interacts with their friends. They also have friends, and continue to meet new ones on sports teams, at church, in music lessons and in our neighborhood."
A teacher’s view: "In my experience the SI students have benefited from being grouped together with the same students throughout various years. They become very comfortable with each other, which allows them to take more academic risks. The students tend to help each other and are prone to form lasting friendships. At each level we have found ways to encourage student interaction with non-immersion students, i.e., shared specials, field trips and projects."
Q: Is a program like this more or less likely to be impacted by budget cuts as Federal, State and local budgets get squeezed?
A: Although, like many of the programs throughout the District, Spanish Immersion was negatively affected by the recent economic downturn, the administration and the School Committee have made a commitment to Spanish Immersion for the upcoming years and are committed to its strengthening and regrowth.
Administrator’s view: "The Spanish Immersion Program is a true strength of the MURSD as it represents innovation and student acquisition of key 21st century skills. Our new strategic plan has identified it as a priority as its success is critical for our district’s competitive advantage. The program has a proud tradition and I am committed to strengthening the program so it continues to be a model for K-12 immersion programs nationally. " (Joe Marusczcak, Superintendent)
Q: What are the main objectives of the program?
A: There are four main objectives:
- Students will develop high levels of oral and written proficiency in both Spanish and English. • Students will perform academically at or above grade level in tests in both Spanish and English. • Students will develop positive attitudes toward people of other language communities. • Students will develop positive perceptions of themselves as bilingual/bi-literate individuals.
Q: What amount of time will my child be learning in Spanish?
5 & 6
Secondary World Language Offerings Will Meet Student Needs.