I’m not sure how I feel about this program. On one hand, if you’re going to learn another language it’s easier to learn it at a younger age. On the other hand, I wonder why it’s necessary to teach a history class in Spanish instead of simply teaching Spanish as its own subject a few times a week.
This reminds me of immersion programs in which (usually Spanish-speaking) children are taught in English – despite not understanding the English language. Pros are the quicker comprehension of the language. Cons are the loss of subject matter knowledge that comes from missing key concepts because of vocabulary issues.
Comment by Attorney DC — February 11, 2009 @ 2:17 pm
That’s pretty much my point, ADC. Frankly, I wish I’d had Spanish in elementary school. But this approach seems to relegate history to a subordinate status–merely a delivery mechanism for Spanish.
Comment by Robert Pondiscio — February 11, 2009 @ 3:15 pm
It seems to me that if you’re going to do immersion language teaching, you have to actually immerse kids. One period a day for 5 years isn’t immersion.
And if you’re only going to devote one period a day to language instruction, you need to teach the language and not try to teach the language plus another subject in that time.
Comment by Robert Pondiscio — February 11, 2009 @ 3:20 pm
What is wrong with American parents?? The egotism and arrogance of these parents is indicative of a larger American problem. Americans in general are woefully ignorant about history, geography and languages other than English (and many don’t even know that too well!) Here, these kids are getting a unique experience and a chance to expand their horizons and vocabulary (it’s proven that kids who know foreign languages do better on SAT vocab), and they are complaining. In the USA, private school kids get more language school experience because some of the parents (and educators) at public schools are so ethnocentric.
I learned Spanish as an adult and I can’t believe the opportunities and experiences, both socially and professionally, it has afforded me. Everyday people say, how lucky I am and ooh and ahh because I have NO Spanish/Hispanic background but can speak fluently another language. I learned so much about English when I learned Spanish.
Now, I married another bilingual person and we are raising our kids bilingually. My son is way ahead of his peers in vocabulary, history, and geography. I can see that his language experience has made him much more worldly than his peers. Give me a break– “relegate history a subordinate role”. In fourth grade they are learning about exploration in the Americas, which is greatly tied up with Spanish-speaking explorers etc. Do any of the complainers speak another language fluently?
I think it sounds great and one that I would gladly put my children in (whether it was Spanish or Chinese for that matter.) And, in fact they did have that experience when we lived in Puerto Rico. They went to private school and they had English, Science and Math in English and Spanish and Social Studies in Spanish. We just returned to Massachusetts public schools and his teacher told me that my son is her top student in Social Studies. Living Proof!
Those kids are lucky. Of course the ones (whose parents) see it as an opportunity will fare much better.
Comment by Camille Krawiec — February 12, 2009 @ 10:08 am
Camille, the problem is not that the children are learning Spanish; most parents are happy to have their children learn a second language. The problem is that the Spanish is not being taught well enough, or intensively enough, to provide a real learning platform for future Spanish-learning, if I read the description correctly. And at the same time, social studies is being taught in a weak and attenuated way because the children do not yet have enough Spanish to absorb 4th-grade social studies (whatever that is) if they’re taught entirely in Spanish.