Monday, November 24, 2008

Babble Piece About Language Immersion Programs

I always thought I would make sure my kids get exposed to a second language in those early years when their brains are still open to it. Little did I know how difficult that would be. The only language immersion program in Oak Park is at another school, and only available to kids in that district. When I worked part time, we had a Spanish-speaking nanny, but that situation ended two years ago.

Babble.com today has a pretty positive piece on immersion programs. One interesting thing it mentions, though, is that educators feel that learning in 90% a foreign language and 10% English in the early years is the way to go. Yet, the classes are typically a 50/50 mix of native English speakers and native speakers of the foreign language. Since testing is in English, the test scores in such classes are usually way below average, especially for the kids who are not native English speakers.

Which makes me wonder: Aren't these programs helping the native English kids at the expense of the native foreign language speakers? I can totally see the advantage of having native speakers in my kid's class -- and yet little kids of immigrant parents do not exist solely to help my kid get a better education! What do you think?

2 comments:

Notta Wallflower said...

I think both populations of kids are being helped. The kids who are learning English are definitely benefiting from having good English-speaking role models. On the subject of testing, I wish there were better measures to truly assess a child's language development, in their base language. I see a lot that makes me cringe, and I know that there are kids labeled "disordered" who are not simply because they don't test well, and because the tests were not normed for non-English speakers. /sigh I could go on and on...

Kim Moldofsky said...

I haven't seen the Babble piece, but my impression was that the testing indicates things equal out by third.

Then again, that's what they say about gifted/advanced kids, that's other students "catch up" by third grade. Which I think is a crock.