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What Is a Bilingual classroom?
A Montessori bilingual classroom is a rich learning environment in which children are introduced to Language, Math, Science, Geography, Sensorial, Practical Life and Art in both English and Spanish.
Our bilingual Montessori programs have been designed by certified bilingual Montessori teachers to help native and non-native English speakers become bilingual. The two-way bilingual immersion program is based on the principle that teachers only speak in their native language while educating students.
How Our Bilingual Classrooms Work
Our Pri-Primary and Primary class (2-6 yrs) is a bilingual classroom. Because of the nature of Montessori with individual instruction and curriculum catered to each student’s progress, the percentage of English/Spanish may vary depending on the student. Overall, on average, 50% of the child’s work is in Spanish and 50% in English. It is vital that the students learn all subjects in both languages in Primary since this is the sensitive period for language development. Typically, a child learns to read in English first, then in Spanish. However, there are exceptions, and the teachers will assess each child to determine his or her reading needs. The emphasis here in Spanish is teaching the children vocabulary in preparation for speaking and reading, and continuing to foster confidence in interactions with teachers in Spanish.
Our overall teaching philosophy is that each teacher teaches primarily in her native language. In addition to individual work, there are 2 group circle times in each class that include songs, storytime and group lessons - 1 in Spanish and 1 in English each day. It takes approximately 6 years of bilingual education for a student to become fully bilingual (fluent in both English and Spanish).
Frequently Asked Questions about Our Bilingual Classrooms
WHAT IS THE BEST AGE TO INTRODUCE A CHILD TO ANOTHER LANGUAGE?
The earlier a child learns a new language, the better. Studies have shown that children who learn a new language before the age of five are able to learn with the same part of the brain used in speaking their mother tongue. Younger children do not have inhibitions and can learn to speak a second language naturally, and with native pronunciation.
WILL A SECOND LANGUAGE INTERFERE WITH MY CHILD’S ENGLISH ABILITY?
In most cases, learning another language enhances a child’s English ability. Comparing two language systems aids with the understanding and use of each. Reports have demonstrated that children who have learned a second language earn higher SAT scores than students who have not learned a second language.
IS IT HARDER FOR A CHILD TO ACQUIRE TWO LANGUAGES AT ONCE?
There is no evidence to suggest that it is harder for a child to learn two languages at the same time. A child does not have to be exceptional to be bilingual, as long as the child is exposed to two languages, independently, throughout early childhood. The key is to keep each language system independent.