Dual Language Program

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Dear Parents of St. John Vianney School Community,

It gives me great pleasure to formally announce to our school community that we have been accepted as a member study school in partnership with Boston College to develop a dual language program at St. John Vianney School.

Q: What is a study school and partnership with Boston College? 

A: As a study member group, St. John Vianney School has access to resources and participation with other dual language schools in the formation of a successful program.  It allows time for discernment of our school’s potential for full membership as a part of the Two Way Immersion Network for Catholic Schools.  A partnership with Boston College allows us access to the best development and research of language immersion education.  Joining the TWIN-CS assists us in transforming into the school our team envisions it to be:  a vibrant, diverse, Christ-centered learning environment for all children who walk through our doors.

Q: What does TWIN-CS mean?

A: TWIN- CS is an acronym for Two Way Immersion Network for Catholic Schools.

Visit the website at www.TWIN-CS.org

Q: What is Dual Language Education?

 A: St. John Vianney is a culturally and linguistically diverse community.  Dual language education takes advantage of the school’s community gifts of language and culture and places students together to learn from one another about their language and culture.  The best way to learn a new language is in real-life, everyday situations.  The goal of the program is for students to become bilingual, bi-literate students who will have an advantage in a multicultural world.

Q: How does this affect St. John Vianney in 2017-2018 and beyond?

 A:   Nothing changes for students in grades K – 8.

The dual language program for next year affects the present Pre-K 3 students.

The dual language program begins in the fall of the School Year 2017-2018 as a year by year phase in program.  This means the program begins in Pre-K 3 and Pre-K 4 the fall of 2017 and grows each year.  By 2023 the Pre-K4 kindergarten class will be in 5th grade.  The goal is they will be bilingual and bi-literate and achieve academically at or above grade level in both languages.

By 2026 St. John Vianney School will be a fully bilingual – dual language school.

Both language groups will be integrated for content instruction.  The environment promotes language and social equality while supporting full bilingual proficiency for both native and non-native speakers of English.

Q:  In a dual language program does the teacher translate for the students?

A:  No, the teachers maintain instruction in one language for the entire day in the immersion classroom.  Teachers encourage peer support and communicative interactions.  The goal is to provide 50% of the instructional time in Spanish and 50% in English.  Students receive instruction in both languages for reading, language arts and math.

Q:  How soon will my child show progress in second language acquisition?

A:  The research shows that it takes from 3 – 7 years to develop native-like proficiency in a second language.  If a child has little or no exposure to a second language, he/she will go through a silent period.  It is during this time that the student will not respond orally in the second language.  It is important to encourage them to speak in whatever language they feel comfortable.  As they increase their comprehension, they will slowly begin to respond in their second language.

Q: What are the benefits of Second Language Acquisition? 

  • Creates open minded children by giving them access to different cultures.
  • Makes learning a third or more languages much easier.
  • Gives twice the enjoyment of reading and writing.
  • Fosters understanding, appreciation, and respect of differences.
  • Increases self-esteem and confidence in social interactions.
  • Positive effect on intellectual growth
  • Increased thinking flexibility
  • Fosters adaptability to new situations and contexts.
  • Improves child’s ability to focus on individual task
  • Children who learn a second language before the age of five have been shown to have denser gray matter in their brains than their monolingual peers. A higher density has been correlated with increased intellect.
  • Provides better economic and employment opportunities.
  • English, the most common language in the U.S., is only third on the list of the most popular native languages world-wide – it ranks well behind Chinese, and just behind Spanish.
  • Children who grow up learning to speak two languages are better at switching between tasks than are children who learn to speak only one language
  • Recent studies of children who grow up in bilingual settings reveal advantages over single language children, including both increased attentive focus and cognition. Compared to monolinguals, the studied bilingual children, who had had five to ten years of bilingual exposure, averaged higher scores in cognitive performance on tests
  • The developing brains of children in bilingual environments appear to build strength, speed, and efficiency in their executive function networks.
  • For Spanish-speaking children, bilingual education will help them adapt better and faster to the curriculum and the culture, and for English-speaking children, it will develop cognitive flexibility among many other benefits.
    From an article on www.pbs.org/parents:
    “Surprising Advantages of Bilingual Education,” by Bridget Bentz Sizer

Information from the U.S. Secretary of Education, John B. King recognizes the universal facts that the number of children ages 5 – 17 in the U.S. who speak a language other than English at home has more than doubled in the past three decades.  These home languages are an asset that should be valued. The research shows that supporting bilingualism from early ages can have wide ranging benefits.  In June, 2016 the White House announced a new Federal Policy Statement on more effectively supporting dual language learners in early childhood programs.  It recommends that all states and local communities work together to ensure that all early childhood programs are welcoming and linguistically accessible to families. The dual language program is the topic for our coffee talk on November 15th.

St. John Vianney School has the honor of being the first dual language program in the Diocese of Orlando.  It brings our mission statement to a lived reality.   We are a communion of cultures that seeks to evangelize.  St. John Vianney students will be empowered to reach their full potential in their diverse world. This is an exciting time for St. John Vianney School.  I look forward to walking this part of the journey with you and your family.

Sincerely,
Ms.  Marshall
Principal