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Language Immersion & Multilingualism

Scientific and academic research have repeatedly demonstrated significant neurological and psychological benefits to language immersion such as better planning, problem solving, analysis and judgement; improvements in attention and empathy; and delayed onset of brain disease. Through Spanish Immersion and English & Mandarin instruction, students at MIS are developing the ability to communicate in the top three spoken languages across the world.

It is clear that in the US context a full immersion program is more effective than a dual immersion program to guarantee biliteracy by the end of primary school. Because of the prevalence of the English language in life outside of the school, it is essential that children are exposed to the target language, in our case, Spanish, for a minimum of 70% of the time. The 50% split of the dual immersion program is not enough to ensure that deep understanding of the language and the development of all four skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening) is achieved by all students.  

In a full immersion program, the lead teacher can focus on teaching all curricular content of core areas in Spanish, without having to switch languages in the middle of the day. The one language, one face policy ensures that children learn to identify their teachers as predominantly Spanish speakers and naturally interact with them in that language. In dual language programs where teachers switch languages in the middle of the day, there is a tendency for them to code switch often and to go to the language with which they are more comfortable. Here at MIS we ensure the immersion experience is the most effective by having lead teachers who are fully fluent or native speakers of Spanish and by following a one language one face policy.

“…research indicates that in full immersion programs, children develop initial literacy in the immersion language, and then develop a complete understanding of the foreign language. However, the benefits do not stop there. In fact, the many cognitive processes that underlie the ability to read a foreign language, such as understanding the relationship between the spoken language and the written word, transfer from one language to another. In essence, research shows that a full immersion program not only teaches students a foreign language, it strengthens their understanding of their native language as well.” — Grace Chen, Public School Review, April 6,2018