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Berkeley Elementary School Immersion Programs
I would love to hear about experiences of anyone who has transitioned their English-language-only child into LeConte or any other language immersion program in 3rd or 4th grade. Was it very difficult? How did you do it? Was it traumatic? Did your kid learn the language? Did you do some kind of immersion program over the summer to get them ready? Thanks! Anon
I recently got word that plans for moving the TWI program in Berkeley to a single site are quickly becoming a reality. The superintendant recommended that all students who start Kindergarten in the Fall this year will transfer to the new site, LeConte, at the beginning of next year (1st grade). I'm wondering if anyone has any more information about this. Will families have the option of sticking with their original school? Will classes move as a whole, or will the incoming 1st graders have to make all new friends in a new location? What about Kindergarteners that have older siblings? Will they be sent to separate schools? Any information is greatly appreciated:) WorriedMama
Based on feedback from members of the community, the Superintendent intends to revise the proposed timeline for TWI consolidation, and he will discuss this at the community forums on May 29, 6pm at LeConte and June 4, 6pm at Rosa Parks. (Please consider attending these forums to provide further feedback to the Superintendent.) Our understanding is that the Superintendent's proposal that will be presented to the Board on June 6th will recommend a year-by-year implementation, starting with kindergarten only the first year. Under this revised proposal, incoming kindergarten students at Rosa Parks and Cragmont in 2012 will not be forced to change schools after their first year.LeConte Dad
BUSD Two Way Immersion (TWI) Consolidation Forums Superintendent Huyett invites the community to join him at two community forums outlining the possible Two Way Immersion (TWI) consolidation at one instead of three elementary schools. Tuesday, May 29 at LeConte Elementary School 6:00 Cb 7:30 p.m. 2241 Russell Street (West of Telegraph) Monday, June 4 at Rosa Parks Elementary School 6:00 Cb 7:30 p.m. 920 Allston Way (West of San Pablo) The meetings are intended to allow the community to provide input regarding the consolidation and the issues related to implementation, e.g., transportation, sibling preference, staffing, time line for implementation, and impact on all sites. All school sites are encouraged to participate in these forums. Childcare and Spanish interpretation will be provided. Video of the Superintendent's TWI Recommendations to the Board on May 9, 2012: https://vimeo.com/42169154 The Board Document: TWI Recommendations from Supt 05-09-12 English: http://www.berkeleyschools.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/TWI-Recommendation TWI Recommendations from Supt 05-09-12 espaC1ol: http://www.berkeleyschools.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/TWI-Recommendation
It seems the superintendent has backed away from the proposal to make the 1st grade TWI students all move to LeConte in 2013, so they can stay at their own school. However, siblings that were both in the TWI program would need to be at two separate schools (current students would stay at their current school and incoming kinders in 2013 would be at LeConte). For that matter, current LeConte families who are not in TWI would also be forced to be at two separate schools as the younger siblings would not be welcome.
But is anyone else concerned about the segregation aspect of this proposal? Aren't we creating a separate school for all the native Spanish speaking children to attend? I thought Berkeley held our diversity and full integration of that diversity as one of our core principles. This feels wrong. I am increasingly worried as this moves forward
My daughter is starting Kindergarten next Fall and we are looking at BUSD's two-way immersion program. She is doing very well in her English-speaking Preschool and has strong Kindergarten readiness skills. That said, she has a low frustration tolerance at home, and does not yet speak Spanish. Her father is of Chilean descent and I speak fluent Spanish. We would love for her to speak Spanish so that she could better understand her culture and communicate with Chilean relatives. I am worried that she will not transition well to the immersion experience (not the most adaptable) and that we would have to switch out of the program. Can other parents share their experiences with the program and with transitioning their children? Especially those with children with more ''spirited'' or ''difficult'' temperaments? Thanks! Potential TWI Parent
We have a child who will be entering kindergarten next fall, and live in Berkeley's southeastern zone. We would love for our (non-Spanish speaking) child to be admitted to any one of the three Spanish two way immersion programs, and know that we may not get into any of them given the demand. So, two questions. Should one always list the immersion program school in one's own zone on the form to maximize chances of getting admitted? And, if we are willing to drive our kid to school across town, is there, in fact, any chance of being admitted into an immersion program out of one's zone? Has this ever happened to anyone on this list? I know that one can list the other two zones' immersion programs on the form one submits, but I don't understand how, if demand within the zone exceeds spaces as seems always to be the case, a child from another zone would be admitted. Thanks so much for any guidance! mom
I've been told by BUSD that our son is 3rd on the waitlist for the BUSD Dual Immersion program at the school our daughter currently attends. I'm just wondering what other people's experiences have been on the Dual Immersion waitlist (even though I know that there are SO many different variables that affect placement each year). What I'd really like to know is: when did your child get in, if you weren't in the first group accepted by lottery? :) Thanks! --Hope our son can learn Spanish like his sister is!
We are new to the area and were assigned BUSD Spanish immersion for our incoming Kindergardener. We are absolutely thrilled with the language immersion concept--for all of its benefits, from social to cognitive. In fact, we suddenly turned down a spot at a good private school to do the immersion when we found out. Now we have done a little more looking at the BUSD situation (we had assumed we were doing private until we got the immersion news) and are getting confused. I am starting to feel like I'm gambling a bit with my child's education (yes, of course that can be true at private). We are not assigned to one of the high test scoring BUSD schools. Can the benefits of the immersion program help transcend the low score environment? Can we get feedback from current parents on the program, particularly from an academic perspective? How are the academics? Can this be a good college track program (even though the test scores at the school are so bad)? What about their cohorts? I understand the program has a waiting list--is this more for social reasons or academic ones or both? Are there some parents of kids who have moved through the program from start to finish who can comment? How did the program over time effect your kids high school/college/academic life? D
I can say that learning two languages slightly slowed my boys' reading fluency and spelling in English and thus has affected their scores, but the benefits of the dual language acquisition are clear even to me now - they make word connections/definitions easier than otherwise, get an ''ear'' and a better accent for the language, and we are able to do international travel to Latin America that is much more fulfilling for them at an early age. I am also aware of research that the more standard ''test-driven'' academic benefits of dual language appear later - middle school and life long.
I am happy to talk about specifics of our experience in the LeConte program if that is the school you are looking at. margi
From the point of view of self interest, I find the numbers comforting. My kid has been and will be fine in the BUSD. As a citizen, of course, I find the numbers depressing and distressing. And I'm glad there are serious efforts underway to close the achievement gap. (No simple matter.)
Of course you know lots of people would take the spot your child has in an instant. Parent Satisfied w/BUSD Academics ( who also recognizes the imperfections)
My son will be going into Kindergarten next year, and I am considering applying for the two-way immersion program. I think it'd be a great experience, but am concerned that it might not be a good fit for my son. He's very smart, but he tends to be emotional, have short attention span, and get frustrated. I'm worried that he might not be able to hack it in TWI. Can anyone comment on this? Anyone out there who had to pull their children out of TWI? I understand the application process, and admission lottery; I know he might not get it. But I'm wondering whether to apply at all. Alex P
I would like to enroll my child in the Spanish immersion program at BUSD next year. However, I discovered that you fill out a separate application form for the Spanish immersion (all zones) rather than applying for a specific school in your own zone. What happens if one's child gets into a Spanish immersion school in another zone miles away from where you live? If my child doesn't get into the Spanish immersion in our zone I would probably prefer them to go to a non-Spanish Immersion school in our zone rather than them traveling or driving across town. Can you enroll for both Spanish Immersion and Non-Spanish immersion preferences and if you don't get the Spanish Immersion in your own zone then pick the non-Spanish Immersion school in your zone instead? This is not all that clear on the BUSD website. I'd like to hear from parents who have been through this process. Also those who had experiences like getting into Spanish Immersion in another zone, or not getting into a Spanish immersion program. What did you do then? Wishing for a bilingual child
So yes, it is easy to apply for just one. You only check th e one you want on the Spanish emersion application form so you won't be in the lottery for the other schools. Then you do the other application as well. If you have any questions about how these things work, you can call Francisco at BUSD and he will explain it all. anon
If Dual Immersion is your priority, you should rank all three schools on the Dual Immersion lottery form. You might be able to get into a non-zone dual immersion school, depending on that year's demand. If you don't, then you will be placed in the English lottery and have an equal chance as anyone else in your zone to get into your choice of English school in your zone.
In any case, people who want Dual Immersion must file both Dual Immersion Parent Request forms and Regular program request forms, so that your priorities will be taken into account in the lottery.
Contact the BUSD admissions office if you need further clarification. hp
We would really like our non-Spanish speaking daughter to be enrolled in a Spanish immersion program for elementary school. While we are planning to apply to the new Spanish bilingual school in Rockridge, I feel pretty strongly about supporting the public schools. I know it is extremely hard to get into the Berkeley immersion programs if you are an English speaking family. Is there anything we should be doing to improve our chances (like attending a Spanish Language school in another country, etc.)? Or is it strictly lottery? She still has one more year before Kindergarten so we have some time. anon
Taking Spanish classes before kindergarten will not give your child any advantage for kindergarten placement. Spanish speaking families probably have a better chance to get their kids in than do english speaking families, as more english- speaking families apply. Your best chance is to apply to the ''dual immersion'' program in the school in your zone. If you do not get in, ask to be put on the waiting list. Some kids who are in English speaking classes do get in in later years. These are likely to be kids who have some Spanish language capabilities from home or through afterschool or other classes. These transfers occur as spaces become available when kids move away or transfer out of dual immersion and into english speaking classes. At Cragmont it MAY be about one ''spot'' a year that opens up. anon.
We have been raising our daughter in a Spanish-speaking
household and are eager to continue with her Spanish once she
starts kindergarden. We have just moved to the area and are in
the process of figuring out our school options. I know some of
the Berkeley Public Schools have Spanish immersion programs,
and would love any information on which schools have programs,
and any positive or negative feedback on these schools.
I have also heard that the waitlists are very, very long for
these programs, and was wondering if there is any advice on
when/how to sign up in order to make sure we don't miss the
Our son is in a spanish language preschool and we are looking into the immersion programs in the Berkeley Public Schools for next year. We live in the Central zone so Cragmont would be the immersion program for us. We are wondering if it is difficult to get into these programs and if there is flexibility in switching zones to attend different immersion programs. Any advice would be enlightening, thanks. Carly
Anybody have experience with Spanish immersion programs, especially in Berkeley elementary schools? Kim
I'm considering enrolling my twin boys in one of the Spanish immersion kindergarden classes in the Berkeley public schools next year. Has anybody had experience with any of these programs, or with any other immersion programs? My kids are native English speakers.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
I was pleased with the program overall, but the one disappointment I hadn't anticipated was the relatively low level of instruction. Since the teachers' time was so focused on helping students with language problems, there wasn't much time to provide the sort of enrichment that kids who learn more quickly need. My daughter complained regularly of being bored in the English room, although she loved the Spanish room. Overall, I think the value of learning a second language early outweighed the boredom (I was amazed at how quickly she learned to pronounce Spanish words perfectly, with no accent!), but you'll have to make your own decision after learning how the Berkeley program works and considering your own child's needs. Beth 1997
The specific example that comes to mind: She was having trouble with Math. I couldn't understand why this brilliant child didn't get what seemed to me to be basic concepts. She didn't seem to know what I was saying half the time, as we worked through her homework. One day, it finally hit me. She didn't understand my words (like "common denominator"), because *SHE HAD LEARNED THEM IN SPANISH*! She literally had never heard the words I was using before. Once we understood this, it was much better.
So my caveat is this: Make sure that the program is appropriate for each child. It can be a great environment, and very stimulating for both native English and native Spanish speakers. (Victoria's Spanish is much better than mine!). But check often to make sure the child is learning everything they need to know to be successful once they leave the program. Dawn
This is in response to the query, I can't remember whose, concerning the Spanish immersion program at the Columbus Elementary School in Berkeley.
My son is a kindergartener in the program, a native English speaker, and is thriving in the program. As in most school settings, the individual teacher makes or breaks the school year for the children, and we are fortunate to have a remarkable teacher, Greg Martin. The basic idea of the immersion program is a six year sequence of classes (K-5) in which the proportion of the curriculum taught in the minority language (in this case Spanish) decreases each year, starting at 100% in kindergarten and reducing by 10% each year, to 50/50% English/Spanish in 5th grade. By 5th grade all kids, both native English and native Spanish speakers, are bilingual and biliterate. There is a lot of literature on the successes and issues of this kind of program, and anyone interested in the technical side should contact Alison Jones, the bilingual coordinator at Columbus.
In brief, the system was begun in Quebec to support the bilingual mandate for French and English. There are several hundred schools in the US that have adopted the method, and overall it's been a rousing success. One of them, Fiesta Gardens, is in San Mateo. Several major points about the immersion program: 1) the native Spanish speakers become literate in Spanish in a formal way that permits them to capitalize on their family's language background as a positive attribute, instead of a liability, and they learn English in the same way. 2) The immersion program enhances the social integration of the English and Spanish speaking kids by giving status to the ability to speak Spanish. 3) And the English speaking kids learn a foreign language when they're still young enough to do so easily, and without developing an American accent. There's absolutely no evidence that being in classes conducted in Spanish retards, inhibits, slows down or in any way negatively affects the progress of English speakers in learning to read English or improve English speaking skills. I can vouch that my son remains very articulate in English, and shows a lot of interest and progress in reading English words and books.
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