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    #2256 - 03/12/07 10:33 AM Grade skip vs. language immersion program?
    Christi Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 03/08/06
    Posts: 24
    Loc: Dallas, TX
    Hi all,

    What was once fairly clear has now become confusing! I have been planning to pursue a grade skip for DS5, who is in kindy this year and is working very quickly through 2nd grade EPGY math at home (he started EPGY three weeks ago at the kindergarten level), reads fluently, and seems to be working above 3rd grade level right now in language arts without instruction. He gets 2nd grade language arts homework sent home, and it's more like busy work to him.

    I know the grade skip wouldn't be a permanent fix, since he keeps surging ahead faster and faster. I suppose he'll be done with the curriculum at his elementary school within the next year or so and then I'll be wondering what else to do with him. I have a feeling it's going to be expensive, LOL.

    But now, our district has announced a new Dual Language Immersion program starting next year for kindy and first graders, then adding a new grade level each year. In this program, the students will be taught all English one day and all Spanish the next. I have heard that this can be a good option for gifted children.

    Is anyone familiar with this type of arrangement? How does this compare to a grade skip? I'm hesitant, to say the least.

    None of us speak Spanish at home, so I would have to learn a new language to help DS with his homework. And would this really be enough of a long-term challenge? What kind of child does best in this scenario?

    Thanks so much for any advice!

    Christi




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    #2257 - 03/12/07 11:37 AM Re: Grade skip vs. language immersion program? [Re: Christi]
    Ania Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/07/06
    Posts: 802
    Loc: Home :)
    I am not familiar with the program, but have kids who are fluent in two languages and are currently learning third by immersion. I would pick immersion option. IMO it is much easier to work extra on math and language than to teach a child a second language. Plus you never know what options as far as subject acceleration might open up in a future...
    My kids are fantastic in their Spanish and I do not speak the language :-)

    Ania

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    #2258 - 03/12/07 01:02 PM Re: Grade skip vs. language immersion program? [Re: Ania]
    delbows Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/25/06
    Posts: 778
    Loc: Midwest
    Christi,

    This sounds like a very good opportunity! It might work well for the next year or two. Consider it “subject acceleration”. I would jump at that opportunity and then take my time to consider the next step!

    Diana

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    #2259 - 03/12/07 01:02 PM Re: Grade skip vs. language immersion program? [Re: Ania]
    stbmom Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/26/06
    Posts: 57
    The only caution I would have about the immersion program is what type of kids would be in the program. Would the program be mainly English speaking children? If there would be a mix of English speaking and Spanish speaking children you would have to be aware that many new immigrant Spanish speaking children tend to track severly behind English speaking children. As a result, the class may function at an extremely slow pace.
    I haven't really seen a lot a research regarding immersion programs for the long term.
    As long as the class will function at a good pace, doing the language immersion might be good. I am not sure I would hold my child back academically for the language though. Especially Spanish as it is relatively easy for English speaking children to become fluent in Spanish. My son (16 months) recieves Spanish language instruction twice a week for one hour and is already pretty good. If it were an immersion program for Mandarin, German, French, or another language a little less familiar to English speaking kids I would definitely consider it though.

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    #2260 - 03/12/07 03:04 PM Re: Grade skip vs. language immersion program? [Re: stbmom]
    Christi Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 03/08/06
    Posts: 24
    Loc: Dallas, TX
    Thank you everyone for the opinions and feedback! I guess I was hoping that this program would provide an outlet for DS to learn something new without moving him so far ahead of grade level that he would need lots of grade skips.

    One of my questions would be about admission, and what criteria they are looking for. That is the big unknown, although I think it's a pretty safe bet that there would be a lot of new immigrant children, and stbmom, I definitely see the point of your questions. If DS is having trouble with the pace of his current class, where he is ability-grouped and enriched (although not very effectively), then how will he feel with children who are possibly behind the learning curve.

    I will probably ask for more about the program after spring break, and I'll everyone updated.

    Thanks!

    Christi

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    #2261 - 03/12/07 06:53 PM Re: Grade skip vs. language immersion program? [Re: Christi]
    Texas Summer Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/01/06
    Posts: 216
    Loc: Texas
    Hi Christi,
    My 2nd grade daughter is in her third year in a Spanish immersion program. The first two years were great. There is plenty of challenge in learning to speak, read, and write in a new language, even considering Spanish is an easy language. My daughter is almost fluent in Spanish, but still has some vocabulary development and grammar improvement to master.

    Every immersion program is different. My daughter is in a 90/10 immersion program. The children are taught in Spanish 90% of the time in K & 1st, then each year English is increased by 10%. By 5th, the children are taught in 50% Spanish and 50% English. In our program, the class is made up of half native English speakers and half native Spanish speakers. The children learn a great deal from each other. Many of the children are recent immigrants, which I feel adds to the cultural experience. Yes, the English speakers tend to be at the top of the class, partly because of the type of parents that are willing to place their children in an immersion program. My daughter has one other gifted child in her class and several other borderline gifted children that participate in the "challenge" classes with the GT specialist.

    I have been very pleased with the immersion program. My daughter is in the top reading group and probably reads at least at a third grade level in Spanish (if not higher). Second grade has been the beginning of my gifted advocacy. I have been working to get my daughter accelerated in math. Also, since the increase in English language instruction this year, she goes to her GT specialist during English time since she reads and writes many grade levels higher than the rest of her class. If my daughter were not in an immersion program, she would have probably already been accelerated twice or be home schooled. My daughter's GT specialist has recommended that my daughter skip 5th grade since she is in the first immersion class and acceleration would mean that she would have to leave the program. We have not made any decisions regarding future acceleration. My daughter has enjoyed and I think been challenged by the program. The only major deficiency we have encountered is math. The only real benefit my daughter has gained during math instruction has been the language aspects of immersion and math vocabulary. We mainly work on math at home though I am hoping to get some subject acceleration for her at school soon.

    I speak very little Spanish even though I took 2 years in high school. I have learned some Spanish since my daughter has been in the program, but she surpassed me in kindergarten. It has rarely been a problem with homework and her school sends almost everything home on in Spanish and English.

    Please let me know if you have any questions.

    Summer

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    #2262 - 03/12/07 06:59 PM Re: Grade skip vs. language immersion program? [Re: stbmom]
    acs Offline
    Member

    Registered: 03/05/07
    Posts: 797
    If there would be a mix of English speaking and Spanish speaking children you would have to be aware that many new immigrant Spanish speaking children tend to track severly behind English speaking children. [/quote]

    I have been lurking on the list for a while now, trying to hold my tongue. But I just couldn't ignore this comment, which I found rather troubling. My son goes to a school with many Spanish speaking children who come from new immigrant families. Many are quite bright and most very hard working. They do not appear different in their abilites than the English speaking children. Some are gifted but do not do well on the qualifying tests because they are still working on learning English. It seems to me that many of these very bright children would really be able to show their true abilities in a dual-immersion program.

    I am a strong proponant of exposing our children to people from a variety of backgrounds. I think it prepares them to work in the diverse world that they will eventually end up in. And struggling with a new language while other students are fluent can increase empathy and understanding of the difficulties that new immigrants face. I do not want my child to just be smart, I want him to be kind, compassionate, and an active participant in the global community.

    So I say go for the dual-immersion. What a great opportunity to meet people and make new friends that he might not otherwise have a chance to meet and learn a skill he would not otherwise have. I have never been able to lose my American accent when speaking Spanish and I am jealous of folks who learn while they are still young.

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    #2263 - 03/12/07 07:26 PM Re: Grade skip vs. language immersion program? [Re: acs]
    Texas Summer Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/01/06
    Posts: 216
    Loc: Texas
    ACS wrote:[/quote]I have never been able to lose my American accent when speaking Spanish and I am jealous of folks who learn while they are still young. [/quote]

    I forgot to mention that, ACS. All the native Spanish speakers with whom my daughter has spoken have said that she sounds like a native speaker.

    Also, I consider it a benefit that my daughter goes to a culturally and economically diverse school. We live in a very middle-class, upper-middle-class suburban area. One of the problems in raising children in this area is they grow up with a misconception of reality. They tend to think that they deserve to have the world handed to them on a silver platter. One of the children in my daughter's class is from El Salvador. He explained to her a little of the poverty he experienced back in his native country. It made enough of an impression on her that she shared the story with me.

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    #2265 - 03/13/07 07:50 AM Re: Grade skip vs. language immersion program? [Re: Texas Summer]
    cym Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/01/06
    Posts: 865
    Loc: southwest
    We have a volunteer (mom) teach Spanish to my kids' class, but I think it's only once a week. My sons love it and have picked it up a bit. I wish it were more often (every day or every other day), because I would love my kids to learn Spanish well. I don't understand why language requirement is reserved for high school level (at least here) when we've already missed their best ages for picking it up. What a valuable skill!

    My family has found that the earlier the kid grade-skips, the easier it is for them. I had one skip K, one skip 2nd, one skip 4th, and one skip 5th. The K was seam-less, 2nd was pretty easy,...5th was definitely the hardest (it's the bridging grade here between elementary and middle school). I recommend as early as you can (now).

    Good Luck!

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    #2266 - 03/13/07 07:53 AM Re: Grade skip vs. language immersion program? [Re: Texas Summer]
    Christi Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 03/08/06
    Posts: 24
    Loc: Dallas, TX
    Texas Summer, thank you for the recommendations!

    ACS, I'm sorry that that you felt troubled by some aspects of this discussion. I appreciate the candid opinions from stbmom, especially since she pinpoints a very real issue in our district. My mother is a teacher here, and I know that our teachers struggle to accommodate the new immigrants. That is not to isolate the Spanish-speaking immigrants, since my mother's own class has children from all over the world. I think that's a wonderful plus to our community, but I also see the frustrations of the teachers who specialize in ESL.

    I have to consider that when it has the potential to be a major factor in DS's education. I don't feel that immigrant students learn slower than non-immigrant students at all. What I know for a fact though, is that the teachers in our district are really struggling to help the immigrant students catch up. Much of our district's resources are focused on getting additional help to them, and I wonder if there will be sufficient resources left to help my son.

    Aside from that, one of my biggest concerns with the language immersion program is math. We have struggled to get DS the math he needs for a long time. Since he started EPGY a few weeks ago, he has finally been able to progess at his own rate, and it has been a huge burden lifted off my shoulders. But shouldn't DS receive appropriate accelerated instruction in math at school? I don't think he'll want to stop exploring advanced math concepts just because he's learning Spanish.

    So I guess I need to find out if DS would still be able to receive accelerated instruction in addition to the language immersion. Would it be feasible to pull him out for that, or would he miss critical instruction time? Also, since they will be adding one year at a time to the program, that would prevent a grade skip within the next few years. (They want long-term commitment to the language immersion program).

    Thanks again!

    Christi

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