Escuela Bilingue Internacional (Oakland, CA)
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Escuela Bilingue Internacional (Oakland, CA)
Parents' reviews of
Reviews for EBI? Send to preschool before Kinder?
My son is 10months old and is currently in a Spanish immersion
daycare/preschool.He can stay until he is ready for kindergarten. I'm really
interested in applying to EBI for kindergarten/grade school and would love
current reviews from parents. Also, I'm wondering if it is better for him to
attend preschool at EBI to increase the chances of getting accepted for
kindergarten. If that is the case, could I wait until he is 4 to make the
change? I'd like the extra year to save money for tuition!
Thanks so much for your thoughts.
We have been an EBI family for 6 years and it is a wonderful school! I think the
transition to kindergarten from pre-school is easier if your child is already enrolled at
EBI. When we started, it was not an issue to get into the school but now it is and I
have heard that there is definitely a wait list for pre-school and kindergarten so it
would be a great idea to get into the pre-school program. The school has only gotten
better over the years and the combination of immersion and the PYP or International
Baccalaureate program, great staff, diverse and wonderful community of families makes it
a fantastic school! Good Luck!
I noticed your question about EBI - entering for preschool or waiting til Kinder. Based
on our own experience with our son who is now 6 and in first grade at EBI, I highly
recommend starting in PreK. There are huge benefits to getting used to the environment,
knowing the teachers and staff, knowing the flow, so to speak. My son started at age 3
in the first year of preschool (actually in summer camp prior to that school year
starting). Today, he is so comfortable in the school he wants to live there -- no, not
really -- but it's often hard to get him to leave at pick up time. Kinder is the start
of ''real'' school and having more structure. There's a learning curve with that. If
you can give your child the benefit of being comfortable in the EBI surroundings before
starting Kinder, all the better! And yes, from what I've heard, there is a higher chance
of getting in at PreK vs in Kinder based on space availability. That alone shouldn't be
your main decision point. It should be the benefits it'll yield to your son in having the
comfort level and being ahead potentially in that way. Either way, you and your child
will fall in love with EBI, with the teachers, with the staff, with the process... we
hope to see you there.
I was unaware of EBI until my kids were in kindergarten. I transferred my twins to EBI
from another dual immersion school in the first grade (they also had dual immersion
preschool part-time). While they have caught up (took 1.5 years) I can tell you that the
quality of their Spanish was subpar to the majority of kids that were at EBI throughout
My youngest is at another dual immersion preschool this year and in hindsight I wish that
I had put her into to EBI instead. This particular school is not that different in terms
of tuition but the quality of the facilities and education at EBI is far better.
Hi - My husband and I enrolled our daughter at Escuela Bilingue Internacional (EBI) when
she was just three for their preschool program, and we are very happy that we did. We do
not speak Spanish at home, and wanted her to have a second language. The preschool
program was rich in all areas in addition to the language exposure and the teachers warm,
dynamic and professional. In addition to being a Spanish immersion school, EBI is a
certified Internacional Baccalaureate (IB) institution. The learning program is
inquiry-driven, and even in the preschool we found this approach really empowering for
our daughter. Although it is not necessary to attend EBI's preschool before entering
Kindergarten, our daughter's transition was particularly smooth, and having been a part
of the EBI community already made this move to more Kindergarten's more formalized
learning program even easier. Currently she is in second grade, enjoying the process of
learning, and soaking up the wonders of the world like a little sponge - in both Spanish
Happy EBI parent
My boys both started with preschool at EBI and we couldn't have been happier. They love
their school just as much as we do.
I understand there was quite a large list of people wanting to get into EBI this year, so
if I were you, I'd try to get him in at the preschool level for SURE and then if you
don't get in reapply for kindergarten.
Our son started at EBI in Sept 2012 as a kindergardener, with no previous Spanish, and is
doing well. The primary downside of waiting until kindergarden (rather than starting in
Pre-K) is that there tend to be significantly fewer spaces available in K than Pre-K,
since the Pre-K students have the option of continuing on if they wish. Starting in Pre-K
will increase the odds of having a place in one of the K classes (it also means paying
the tuition sooner of course, which may or may not compare to the tuition at your
alternative preschool). The other benefit of starting in Pre-K is getting your child into
an immersion setting earlier, which will make Pre-K easier if Spanish is not spoken at
home -- but this isn't essential; I do not feel at this point that our son is at a
disadvantage for not having had Spanish until this year. (While Spanish is predominantly
spoken at the school, the teachers always translate for individual kids as needed -- they
get lots of one-on-one attention and the teachers are deeply committed to ensuring the
kids are learning in a happy, nurturing environment -- we are thrilled with the school).
I am a current parent of a preschooler at EBI and I am delighted by the quality of
education my daughter is getting. She started there this year as a 3 year old and spoke
no Spanish. She is now able to understand a large amount of Spanish (follow directions,
stories, etc.) and she speaks back in Spanish. Besides that, I really love the IB
(International Baccalaureate) philosophy that is taught. One of the characteristics
taught is risk-taking and I can see this developing. For example, this weekend one of
our friends spoke to her in Spanish and instead of just getting shy, she spoke back to
him and in Spanish. It was great to see her, as a 3 year old, able to take theses small
steps of speaking up. This will be so helpful as she grows. Overall, I plan on keeping
her at the school past the pre-Kindergarten years and really think that she will grow
there. I can't comment on admissions (as we applied just as she turned 3) and I hope
someone else will comment. I have not regretted my decision to send her to EBI and look
forward to seeing her grow.
Happy mom of an EBI student
You are wise to be looking into Escuela Bilingue Internacional (EBI) for your son. We
have two children there and are thrilled with it. As you may know, EBI is an IB world
school and they use the Primary Years Program (http://www.ibo.org/pyp/) which is really
very impressive in action. The children learn using a variety of modalities and they
incorporate global and local learning in a myriad of creative ways; the focus is on
creating lifelong learners. The children at EBI truly enjoy the process of learning, and
are engaged at every level. Outside of school, my 5 year old creates math games out of
any opportunity, and writes stories constantly. The teaching staff is amazing. They are
passionate about their work, and so sweet and loving towards the children; our kids love
their teachers. The parent community is also very impressive. The school was founded by a
group of parents, and the school still has a very strong, active parent body which
continues to enhance the spirit of the place. As for starting in pre-k, I highly
recommend it to guarantee a spot in Kindergarten. As for starting at 4 versus 3, while it
would represent a year of cost savings, I wouldn't want to miss the year of opportunity
to have my child in EBI.
Happy with EBI
Hi there! I wanted to respond to your post asking for current reviews of EBI and
wondering when a good time is to apply to the school. My daughter, who began EBI this
year as a 3 year old, is having a wonderful year there and we're very happy with the
school. The language instruction there is phenomenal, as is the IB curriculum, which
allows for a lot of open-ended exploration. It is a very fun, play-based environment
with very affectionate teachers. The school also does a good job with the kids on the
socialization aspects as well, which is huge at this age. I was impressed at the recent
parent- teacher conference at how much the teachers really ''get'' my daughter. And my
daughter loves her school.
And, regarding your question as to when is a good time to start at EBI, the school is
getting harder to get into in general. Unlike a lot of private schools which take in
whole new Kindergarten classes, most kids at the pre-K level at EBI stay at the school
for K, which means fewer spots for new families. Coincidentally, I was speaking last
week with the Director of Admissions at EBI (because my daughter's first cousin is
starting as a 3 year old at the school next fall!) and she said that there were only 3
spots which were open this year for 4 year olds and 3 spots which were open at
Kindergarten, as opposed to something like the 40 spots for two new 3 year old classes
that they fill each fall.
So applying as a three year old is definitely your best bet if you're pretty sure you're
interested in the school long term. These decisions are always hard! We really liked
the preschool our daughter attended as a two year old, but decided to switch her to EBI
as a three year old because it's easier to get in as a three year old and so that she'd
be familiar with the school and the IB approach by the time she hit K. Hope this helps!
happy EBI Mom
Your experience after EBI?
I am interested in families that have transferred out of EBI in the last couple of
years -- where did you go, why, and what has been your experience? I understand
that EBI has vastly improved with the new Director of School, and yet some
families do go elsewhere for a variety of reasons. What have you found in terms
of your child's level of preparation as compared to the children in the new
school? I am familiar with the EBI reviews and IB curriculum; i'm more wondering
about how it compares when people go elsewhere.
Hi - We left EBI in the middle of last year. We left because my child has
significant learning disabilities, and even though the school tries to promote
differentiated learning approaches, there is not enough support for kids with
significant learning issues. They had one learning specialist who is spread thin,
but the school would not provide the level of support that my child needed. Most
kids with language-based learning disabilities have a very difficult time with a
second language (they are often having a very difficult time learning to read and
write their first language) and would need a tremendous amount of support to be
successful in a dual immersion program. The only way she would get extra support at
EBI was if we paid for tuition and then paid for the extra services ourselves. We
transferred to our public school in Albany. My daughter so far is getting great
support in our public schools because she qualifies for extra help like language
therapy, an aide in class, etc. and we live in a school district that is better than
most at supporting kids with learning differences. She is also only working in one
language. Since she was born in Latin America we are hoping that she will become
conversant in Spanish in the future, but she will likely never be fully bilingual in
that she will not be doing academic work in a second language. We were sad to have
to let go of our hope that she would become fully bilingual, but she is much happier
and eager to attend school. Last year she was begging us everyday to not make her
go to school, she was not really learning anything, and her self-esteem suffered
significantly. I know another family that also left EBI because their child was
dyslexic and having similar struggles. The level of academic work seems very similar
to what is expected in our public school, the only big difference is the Spanish
immersion which is not available in Albany public schools.
Former EBI parent
We left EBI after being there for a few years. We were there with the new head of
school: Jon Fulk. The vast majority of the staff/parents are very kind and loving
but we found EBI to be more language and politically focused than academic. The
Spanish is excellent but the academics were lacking in the preschool/PreK classes.
Reading and writing skills were minimal and really needed to be done at home. Given
the tuition, I expected the school to do that.
Our child is behind academically at new school and still working to catch up. The
lack of basic reading/writing skills made new school admissions difficult.
It is a new school with their heart in the right place, still finding its way.
EBI kids do great. We left last year after 4 happy years at EBI, mostly because
we're less media oriented than the middle school program. (EBI is normal, btw!
We're not!) My son could have gone anywhere, and not only because of the
academic foundation he received at EBI, but because he's so open to new
experiences and people. I think the immersion experience, and the values they
teach at EBI have a lot do with that.
My family left EBI after my children's kindergarten year, to attend Melrose
Leadership Academy, an Oakland Spanish-immersion public K-8 school. We had a great
experience at EBI, and both of my children were very well prepared in both math and
language arts for their new first grade. We do not speak Spanish at home, and the MLA
community particularly commented on the fact that my children were speaking and
writing in ''academic'' Spanish with full fluency for their age. The EBI community
has continued to be welcoming and friendly with us, despite our decision to go to
public school. EBI provided a great education for my kids, both academically and in
building both enthusiasm and discipline to learn.
- Former EBI parent
Escuela Bilingue Internacional: curriculum/values?
I'm very seriously considering applying to EBI for kindergarten (and beyond),
and have a few questions that I'm hoping the BPN community can help me answer.
I toured the school and was quite impressed with what I saw. However, I have
questions about the quality of the school's curriculum. I'm also a little worried
about the values of a private school community. I attended a very posh girls'
school where the daughters of Silicon Valley billionaires openly sneered at
those of us who were attending on scholarship and mocked others when they
didn't get cars for their 16th birthdays, so I'm hypersensitive to the
slightest hint of snobbery. I'd like to hear from current or recent EBI parents
with their opinions and views about these issues.
My foster son was at EBI for 2 years. I was continually impressed by the
school. Both in terms of their curriculum and how they handled the everyday
issues that come up at a school. They were incredibly empathic with kids who
were different (including high-energy, which is often a real test of
schools). I saw very thoughtful differentiated learning and just a very
thoughtful way of presenting learning for all learning styles. It was not at
all with a feel of a private school. No snobbishness. No support for judging
people because of their income. I think the families who are there because
of the bilingual focus (although that's not why they stay), is more of a
focus than economics. There are a significant number of families with at
least one parent from another (Spanish-speaking) country. We would still be
there, except we're public school people. Our foster-son misses it.
The EBI community is the complete opposite of snobby. There's no sense of
privilege there, just commitment to raising effective citizens.
If you're trying to keep economic status off your child's radar for a while,
EBI is a great place to do it.
A small note: the uniform policy helps with that goal.
Get a copy of EBI's Curriculum Guide. It's a tome, written by Sagrario
Arguelles, an internationally recognized master teacher, whom EBI is very
lucky to have on staff full time. If you have any questions, you can
probably talk to Sagrario directly.
I am the parent of a rising second-grader at Escuela Bilingue Internacional
(EBI). Though my husband and I initially enrolled our daughter because we
valued the Spanish language immersion aspect of EBI, the curriculum at EBI
is equally if not more of an attractant now. We are embarking on our 5th
year and I am happy to address some of your concerns!
EBI is an International Baccalaureate (IB) school utilizing the Primary
Years Program, and adding the Middle Years Program this fall for our sixth
graders. The IB program is inquiry-based, meaning that while the curriculum
framework is rigorous (and adheres to CA standards) the learning themes are
structured in such a way as to start with what the children have experience
with and activate their desire to investigate and answer many of their own
questions. The themes are also trans-disciplinary - language, math, history,
science, art, music and more are all integrated, so the children see the
connectedness. My favorite example is one of the themes for the
Kindergarten year - How We Organize Ourselves. The specific subject for
this six-week period was ''Games''. My initial reaction was doubtful, but it
was quickly revealed that through investigating myriad games the children
were learning math skills, utilizing both languages, studying anthropology
(games from different cultures and time periods), creating their own games,
working in small groups to collaborate, learning to be good winners and good
losers, learning how to play as a team and more. It was a pleasure to watch
my child enjoy her learning as much as she did. I encourage you to look at
the IB Primary Years Program curriculum for EBI, which is available on the
website and here:
In regard to potential private school snobbery - as someone from a family of
middle-class academics who was on work scholarship at an East Coast college
prep school, I can relate to your fears! I'm happy to report that in
addition to having a diverse community in many other ways, over 1/3 of the
EBI community uses scholarship funds. The school truly does make huge
effort to explore diversity in all its forms, right in step with striving
for a globally-minded community. Teaching tolerance and kindness are
incorporated into the curriculum. I find that the community as a whole is
wonderful - and that we are all learners, young and old.
Hope that helps!
Happy EBI parent
Re: EBI vs. Renaissance School
We had our son in preschool at EBI for one first year and we all LOVED
the families, warm and caring teachers, and the school commitment to
language immersion and Latino cultures. However, we could not deal with
shortcomings of the infrastructure of the school (e.g. uneven application
of a curriculum and varying level pedagogical skills and support for the
staff) We live about five minutes from EBI so it took A LOT to get us to
switch schools. TRS has provided us with a community of loving families
and warm caring teachers, but with an outstanding infrastructure of
support for parents, teachers, and children. We didn't go out looking for
a school with strong infrastructure and strong curriculum, probably
because we didn't see ourselves as that sort of parents and because we
didn't know of the freedom, comfort, growth and confidence that these
provide. My son now is in his fourth year at TRS and our youngest child
is in his third year. We have friends at EBI who are happy there and
happen to have an outstanding teacher. I think there are some phenomenal
teachers at EBI. After experiencing the roughest end of the stick,
however, I have come to value having a strong infrastructure and strong
curriculum. The best measure, however, is how well my kids are doing at
I can't speak to the Renaissance School, but I did want to write in
response to the comment that described EBI's application of the
curriculum as ''uneven''. It seems that the poster's child was at
the school about five years ago and the school has changed
tremendously during that time. In addition to hiring an amazing head
of school, EBI is now an official IB school and the teachers receive
tons of support and professional development. My daughter has been
at the school for four years and in addition to feeling confident
that she is getting a great education, the infrastructure gets better
and better each year. It's a young school, so I am sure that there
are growing pains that you may not experience elsewhere, but I think
that it is a top-notch place for kids.
Happy EBI Mama
I have three children at EBI and couldn't be happier. Not only are my
children fluent in Spanish and English they are also learning
Mandarin, starting in 3rd grade. Every aspect of EBI is stellar, from
the music, art and PE programs to the fabulous teachers and head of
school who works very hard to ensure that EBI's program is top notch.
I read the review that someone posted last week and unfortunately
their perspective was from EBI's 1st or 2nd year in existence which
was obviously rocky given that it was a brand new school. EBI is now
authorized as an IB World School, which points to a complete and
thorough academic program. I know my children are getting an amazing
education at EBI and most importantly they love their school.
Happy EBI mom!
This is be our 5th year at EBI and I concur with what the previous
person said - in EBI's 2nd year it completely lacked any
infrastructure and was, quite frankly, a mess. That all changed,
however, in its 3rd year when current head of school, Jon Fulk,
arrived. One cannot imagine how different the school is from when
the previous poster was there- though the loving, caring, dedicated
staff & parent population remain. My kids are receiving a stellar,
well-rounded education and tons of loving support from their
teachers. In addition to their daily curriculum, I love that they
can take violin lessons, capoiera classes, choir classes, soccer
lessons, and ceramic classes (among other things) after school. I
also love that the parents at the school are SO involved, dedicated,
and over-all nice. It's just really a fantastic place.
dedicated EBI mom
Our (almost) 4-year-old daughter is in her first year of pre-school
at EBI, and we've been thrilled with both the environment and the
education that she's received.
The school has been around for over 5 years now, and really seems to
be hitting its stride. As I've written before on BPN, we were very
impressed by their teaching method, especially the International
Baccalaureate (IB) program, which starts at the pre-school level and
carries through to all grades. While we did consider some other
language schools (that had been around for much, much longer), it
seemed to us that EBI understood that while becoming bilingual is
very important, it is still just one component of a complete
As to the urban space, I can only say that our daughter has been very
happy with the combination of indoor (the school gym) and outdoor
play space. This has also been supplemented with field trips to
parks, museums, libraries, etc.
Feel free to email me if you have any other questions.
EBI is a fabulous, rich program with impressive administration, and
some of the most inspired, dedicated teachers I've ever met. If you
are attracted to the IB program (which builds so many wonderful
qualities in the children) I wouldn't hesitate to send your children.
My son learned beautiful Spanish there, and so much more, in a
supportive, intelligent, compassionate environment.
All the best,
We are in our 3rd year of EBI, with a Kindergardener (who did two
PreK years at EBI) and current PK-er. We do not speak Spanish at
home. Both kids are completely different personalities and we find
both are thriving in the environment and with EBI's IB curriculum. IB
(International Baccalaureate) can be hard to digest on a school
tour/info session, but over time we've learned more about it and are
convinced this, in addition to the languages and enrichment classes
offered will give our kids the right education for our personal
values/aspirations. Also, I've found it pretty easy to communicate
with the teachers and administration whenever we had any issues or
just for general 'how is everything?''
I did hear there was quite a bit of turmoil & exodus at this 'new'
school prior to the current Head of School (Jon Fulk) arriving 3
years ago. Feedback I've heard from families that stuck through it is
that his leadership has transformative to the school, so we feel
lucky we hit it at the right time. EBI is now in its 6th year and
feeling very steady, with a fantastic community (families, board of
trustees) offering undying support to the staff. Good luck in your
Happy EBI Family
I have 2 children at EBI and our family has been with EBI since the
school opened its doors in 2006. Throughout the past 6 years, there
has been a tremendous amount of growth and progress and while EBI is
still considered new, it has established a solid curriculum and an
outstanding faculty and staff. The International Baccalaureate
curriculum offers an integrated approach to education and my children
(who are quite different) have thrived in this flexible environment
that really evaluates the needs of each child. The Units of Inquiry
(6 in the lower school and 4 for the preschool) are designed to be
appropriate for all grade levels and the teachers have created very
challenging and engaging activities and lessons for the kids. What I
love is that my oldest, who is now in 3rd grade, is able to relate
the current unit to what was presented last year and she sees how
things are building upon each other from prior years.
Our Head of School, Jon Fulk, has been at EBI for 3 years now and has
helped develop all the teachers and continues to challenge to school
community to think in new ways. All of the teaching staff and Jon
are very accessible and there is a lot of communications with the
parents. Every teacher is more than willing to meet with parents to
answer questions and provide feedback on your child at any time.
A newer school like EBI is not for everyone, but I can honestly say
that it is a home away from home for my children and we are so proud
to be a part of this community.
If you have specific questions, I'd be more than happy to answer
them. You can get my contact information from the moderator.
A Proud and Happy EBI Mama
Our daughter is 4 years old and in Pre-K at EBI. It has been a
terrific year. We have found the faculty and staff to be warm,
caring, professional, and very well informed. The school has a strong
curriculum, guided by International Baccalaureate (IB) principles,
which is quite impressive in its scope, sequence, and relevance. As
an educator myself, I have been impressed by the coordination between
the teaching teams, the method of inquiry, and the trans-disciplinary
approach. Key concepts are explored across multiple subjects and
carried through from year to year, providing context and continuity.
We see our daughter learning in an environment that is interesting,
fun, and organized. Although the school is relatively new, it has
really come into its own in the past few years. The head of school,
Jon Fulk, provides incredible leadership. The faculty and staff are
highly qualified and dedicated. Communication between the school and
the parents has been excellent. Additionally, we have found the
families at the school to be very involved and committed. It's
an incredible community, and we feel so lucky to be a part of it.
Very Happy EBI Mom
Re: Where does your middle-schooler go to school?
Hi, my daughter will be attending 6th grade at Escuela Bilingue
Internacional. It is a Spanish/English bilingual international school
that offers the International Baccalaureate curriculum. The children
also learn Mandarin as a third language. Students wanting to enroll
however must have grade level proficiency in Spanish. This is the
first year they will have middle school. My daughter has been at the
school since Kindergarten and our daughter is happy and loves school.
The kids in her class get along really well and the school addresses
concerns quickly and thoroughly. If your child speaks Spanish you
should definitely come and check it out. We are having an information
session about Middle School this Saturday at 10:30am. at 4550 San
Pablo Ave. in Emeryville.
Re: Elementary or middle school with a great music program
Escuela Bilingue Internacional (Pre-K through 5th grade, expanding to 6th
grade for next year) has, among other strengths, a terrific music program.
My daughter, currently in Pre-K, has thrived with the school's approach to
music. She comes home every day belting out new songs. Her music teacher,
Jackie Rago, is an accomplished musician who clearly has a talent for
working with kids. My daughter is very fond of her and always makes sure to
point her out to me at school. The recent Halloween performance was a real
treat, consisting entirely of original compositions created in collaboration
with the students. The kids threw their heart and soul into the
performance, and it was spectacular.
Re: Spanish Immersion after 5th grade
The only Spanish Immersion Middle School that I know of is Escuela Bilingue
Internacional (EBI) in Emeryville. Currently the school is Pk-5th grade but
the plans are for the school to go up to 8th grade. Next year they add 6th
grade and are currently accepting Middle School applications.
This is our 5th year at EBI and we plan to stay through middle school. EBI
is getting accredited as an International Baccalaureate Organization school,
which means that the curriculum is Inquiry based. Students are taught to
think critically, to develop their analytical and experimental skills, to
take responsibility for their learning and consider how it affects the world
around them and to be better global citizens.
You should take a tour and check out their new facility.
Happy EBI parent
You should check out Escuela Bilingue Internacional (EBI)! It's an amazing
bilingual English-Spanish immersion K-8 school in Oakland and Emeryville.
My child began this year and we've been very impressed with the quality of
teaching and the organization of the school. In addition to language
immersion, the schools offers an IB curriculum as well as a strong arts
program. We also love the friendly and open community of families who
deeply care about the school. You can check out the website
at:www.ebinternacional.org and contact Liza Sanchez, the Admissions Director
at 510.653.3324. There's also an upcoming Middle School Info Session on
January 10th. Good luck!
My child is younger, but attends Escuela Bilingue Internacional, a private
Spanish/English school with campuses in Oakland and Emeryville. They will
be adding a middle school next year in Emeryville, as they have been adding
a grade per year. The school is only a few years old and they add a grade
each year as the older students ''age in'' to the next grade level. It is a
wonderful school, I can't say enough positive things about how great it has
been for our daughter. We adopted our child from Latin America and wanted
her to have some contact with her birth country's language and culture. EBI
is an international baccalaureate school, all the classroom teachers are
native Spanish speakers and bring their culture and language to the school.
It is a warm, supportive staff and community of diverse families.
I would suggest that you look at Escuela Bilingue Internacional (website:
www.ebinternacional.org) It is a private Spanish immersion school, and it
goes up to 6th grade (ultimately it will go up to 8th grade). I think you'll
be be very impressed with the rigorous academics, the talented staff, and
especially the warmth and diversity of the families that attend. The
curriculum is called International Baccalaureate (IB)and has a global
They have financial aid available too!
Happy parent of bilingual kid
Re: Admission to Spanish immersion programs, berkeley
Though our son tested bilingual through Berkeley Ed Dept, he
didn't get into any immersion kindergartens on first round. We
had also applied to Escuela Bilingue Internacional and are
thrilled with the teachers and robust program, which is inquiry
and curiosity based with warm, responsive teachers and very
little rote learning. A third of kids have some scholarship. It
starts in preschool and will go up to 8th grade, is located on
Alcatraz near college, with a new campus in Emeryville.
- glad parent
It's a little early for my 3.5 year old, but... I'm looking
for input on Spanish immersion in Berkeley/Oakland schools.
I've looked through the archives, but would love some more
information/advice -- on or off the listserv. I know (a
little) about the Berkeley lottery schools, and Escuela
Bilingue, but want to know more.
-are any of you parents who actively chose private over
public immersion, or vice versa? why (other than the obvious
-how progressive/child-centered of an education would you
say your child is getting in an immersion program?
-how good are the programs with PE, art, music?
-if your children are in their teens or older, and have gone
through immersion, how fluent are they really? basically --
does it work??
-what are the biggest problems/concerns you have had about
your immersion experience -- either specific to a school or
about immersion in general?
Thanks so much for any time you feel like taking to answer
any of this! Esme
We are an EBI family, and happy to share our thoughts on your areas of
interest. Our eldest is currently in 3rd grade, so I don't think there were any
Oakland public immersion programs available when he started school. But
we're really happy with our experience thus far at EBI.
The primary difference between EBI and a public immersion program would
have to be the International Baccalaureate program that EBI is currently
implementing. The IB program is very child centered, promotes critical
thinking and global citizenship, and really results in kids who can ask good
questions and know where to get the answers. EBI is currently a candidate
school for IB certification, and expects to get their full certification during
Our 3rd grader is at the point where he is getting about half of his instruction
in English and half in Spanish (plus 3 hrs per week of Mandarin). Without any
support at home, he is as fluent a speaker, reader and writer of Spanish as he
is English. When he comes home and reports on what he did or learned that
day, it's really impossible to tell whether he learned it in Spanish or English.
EBI also has PE for kindergarten and up and a really incredible music program
for all of the age groups (including learning recorder in 1st grade and up).
We're obviously thrilled with our experience at EBI, and I can safely say that
the immersion thing really works to create truly bilingual (and biliterate) kids.
I think our biggest concern was how our children would cope with the
language difference, but they have really thrived.
Parent of 2 bilingual kids
I am the parent of 4 trilingual daughters, two of whom
attend Escuela Bilingue Internacional. I am also the
Director of Admissions at EBI so I work with a lot of
families who have your same questions. Here are a couple of
responses I have to some of the issues you bring up.
EBI is an independent school, which allows us to hire the
teachers we feel are best for our program. Because we only
hire native speakers who have an advanced knowledge of the
language, many of our teachers have had their teacher
training in other countries. The public schools would not be
able to hire them. We feel fortunate to have such a high
caliber of teachers who are native speakers of Spanish.
EBI offers the International Beccalaureate Primary Years
Program. It is an incredibly progressive framework for
education and is based on inquiry as a tool for learning.
You can read more at www.ibo.org
Students at EBI have music twice a week and PE three times
a week. Both programs have highly motivating teachers and
are well-designed programs. EBI has plans to hire an art
teacher but at this time art is integrated into the
curriculum by the classroom teachers.
All of my daughters are completely fluent in both Spanish
and English. They also speak German. In addition to Spanish,
students at EBI also begin instruction in Mandarin in 3rd
I hope this information helps! Please let me know if I can
answer any other questions. I hope you will come by and
visit us on a tour or during one of our information
sessions. Best of luck in your research!
Esme: We are at EBI and have been since it opened - my son started
when he was three and is now in first grade. My daughter just started
in Mid-K at four after we had a wasted year in a 1/2 day immersion
preschool. It was important to me that both my kids be bilingual AND
biliterate, which kind of informs my response to your questions below:
Private/public: I chose an independent school vs public because 1)
public options are extremely limited and hard to get in to and 2) lack
the curriculum and academic level that I was most committed to. EBI
has an international curriculum (called IB/PYP) that not only addresses
the immersion need, but will - in the end - create global citizens who
are committed to making a difference in the world and will have the
intellectual and emotional tools they need to do it.
Progressive/child-centered: EBI, because of the IB/PYP program, has it.
The way the kids learn is based on THEIR interests vs something
prescriptive. You can learn more about the curriculum on their
PE/ART/Music: PE and music are great at EBI and music in particular is
an intrinsic part of the program, and are lead by a professional
musician who plays all over the country when she's not teaching. Art
is part of the everyday programs, vs a committed teacher, but as the
kids get older I think an art teacher will be hired.
Experience: I have not had any problems other than people not
understanding why it's important to me or anyone else. There is a lot
of ignorance regarding bilingual education and learning outcomes,
and I had to educate my family on why it was not only not a bad
thing, but being bilingual helps my kids in areas OTHER than
language. My kids are bilingual and easily switch between languages.
As they learn to read, they are becoming biliterate....which, combined
with all the other things they are learning and becoming thanks to the
IB/PYP curriculum, will set them up for life.
I am the parent of a kindergartener at the Escuela Bilingue
Internacional, the Spanish Immersion school in Oakland. Our
daughter is starting her third year at the school, and we
continue to be very happy here - not only with the quality
of our daughter's education, but with the whole school
Originally we wanted to send our child to a public school,
but in looking at our options in Oakland quickly realized
that we needed alternatives. We both liked this idea of a
second language immersion, as so may studies have shown how
good this is for the developing brain - how it increases
mental capacity for other arenas such as mathematics and
music, etc ... Although neither my husband nor I speak
fluent Spanish, we recognize how important it now is to know
it, so we looked into the Escuela Bilingue (EBI). We went to
an info night, and learned that not only is EBI immersion,
but incorporates the International Baccalaureate program -
inquiry-driven, trans-disciplinary and focusing on the
development of the whole child, inside and outside the
We were concerned that, especially as a younger child with
no prior Spanish, our daughter would not have her
communication needs met particularly around emotional issues
(conflict resolution, fears, etc.) We found that this was
addressed - when necessary, the teachers will revert to the
first language of the child. Additionally there is now a
bilingual learning specialist available on staff who is an
available resource for both parents and teachers. After her
second year, our daughter's comprehension of Spanish is
great. She speaks Spanish as well, but generally not with
us. Our attempts to speak or read Spanish at home are often
met with a "no" - likely because she knows that we don't
speak or pronounce things correctly (fair enough). Our
concerns that she would lag behind in English have been
addressed as well. She has an hour of English a day in
Kindergarten with an English teacher, and we read to her at
home. She's now reading in English on her own.
The staff at EBI are fantastic. In addition to training and
mastery of the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum,
the teachers have boundless energy and open hearts. There is
a lot of inter-staff communication comparing what aspects
of projects have worked best. EBI's music, art and physical
education programs are stellar. One of the school's two
music teachers has just finished her Orff certification, and
this approach, which pairs very well with the IB program,
will be utilized in the music department. EBI's physical
education teacher is professional (also a UC volleyball
coach) and pays close attention to teaching children to move
comfortably in their bodies and work together as teams
rather than focusing solely on competition. Our daughter is
self-confident, and she loves going to school.
It is the whole school community, however, that makes EBI
what it is. It is warm, tolerant and diverse culturally,
ethnically and socio-economically (there is an aggressive
scholarship campaign) and with an incredibly active parent
community. It is a young school - only in it's fifth year -
and has growing pains as systems and structures are being
set in place, but frankly this can be exciting as everyone
who wants to participate gets to be a part of coming up with
solutions and setting the foundation. I definitely feel that
at EBI our daughter is getting the school experience we want
for her, and that she is being given all the right tools and
skills to take an active, positive role in our fast-changing
Feel free to email me if you have more specific questions.
A happy EBI parent
Re: Spanish immersion school with strong art program
My child is at Escuela Bilingue International (pre-K), so take my comments,
especially about the upper grades, with as much salt as necessary. He's my
second, much younger, kid, so I've seen my share of schools. What strikes me
most about EBI is the thoughtfulness of the administration and community in
creating the curriculum and deciding how things will be done. There's an
amazing flexibility and creativity in finding the best situation for each child.
There is a very sincere commitment that I see in action to enable students to
direct their education. You really see classes shift direction based on the ideas
and interests of the kids, individually and collectively. In some ways, this is
more meaningful in the upper grades, but I see it as well even in the PK. It
takes a special kind of a teacher to start a day with a certain plan in mind and
integrate changes in direction at the drop of a hat, but I've watched it.
Which is to say two things about arts -- if a kid's interested in art, I know
that they would get a tremendous amount of support in integrating that into
many aspects of his education. And, I suspect that as the school continues to
expand, arts will be strengthened. I continue to see the school fine-tune and
strengthen various parts of the program (this year hiring a gym teacher who
is really amazing). I'm not sure that I perceive EBI as particularly weak on the
arts -- there's currently a display of children's interpretations of great artists'
One last thought for you -- I had a fairly specific list that I used when
looking for a school for my older son, based on his pre-school experience
and his interests. He's in an arts magnet school which he loves. It's a great
school. But, he's lost interest in art. Not because of the school. He just grew
and changed. I don't regret it exactly, but if I had to do it again I would look
for the overall school that seemed to support students well, with a much less
One last thing about EBI -- it's a very international community (not
surprisingly) which is very fun and, I think, broadening.
Wanted to provide some feedback on EBI. The langauage
aspect is phenominal, as the teaching staff represents
many spanish speaking countries and the manner in which
they teach is comprehensive. The art program is
completely integrated into the curriculum, which is why it
may seem limited. My kids have been exposed not only to
hands-on art projects in many mediums, but also the a
variety of artists and can speak knowledgeably about
them. All of the teachers use art as a way to teach other
subjects (math, geography, science and music). We have
been very satisfied with the entire curriculum and
recommend that you take a second look at EBI.
Very Satisfied EBI Parent
I live in Berkeley, and don't know if private school will be an
option for my future kindergartener. My daughter speaks Spanish at home, and Spanish immersion would
be nice, but word on the street is that I'm not the only parent
who has come up with this brilliant idea! From what I hear,
parents have very little control in terms of where their kids
end up. Are there public/magnet school options?
You're not the only one with that brilliant idea! In fact, four years ago, a bunch of
parents with the same idea started Escuela Bilingue Internacional, an independent
bilingual school (Spanish and English) located in Rockridge. The school now serves 3
year olds through 3rd graders (will eventually go through 8th grade), and is truly an
amazing institution and community. We have two children at EBI, one in second
grade and one in the preschool. We don't speak any Spanish at home, but our
second grader is reading and writing Spanish and English and just started Mandarin!
EBI is implementing the International Baccalaureate Program, which is just about
everything a parent could want from an educational program (addresses whole
child, emphasis on global citizenship, etc.). The community at EBI is fantastic as well
- over 50 percent of the families are of color or mixed heritage.
You mentioned that private school may not be in your child's future, but please
consider that EBI has a very aggressive financial aid program that currently provides
tuition assistance to over 20% of the students.
Proud EBI Parent
You should definitely check out Escuela Bilingue Internacional
(EBI) www.ebinternacional.org, which was started because of such
a demand for multilingual education. We currently have our 3.5
year old daughter and 1st grade son there and we all love it.
The Spanish immersion, international curriculum, teachers and
community are wonderful.
I saw EBI in its first year, and was impressed with the school
philosophy, and the plans the administration had for the
school. However, things have changed. I hear there's a new
director, and wonder if anyone can comment on how the school is
now. Are the teachers effective? Is the IB really being used,
or do the teachers think this is something that will be nice in
the future? Have they been trained in it? What's the director
like? Have the costs changed? These are lots of questions --
if you know answers to any of them, I'd love to hear about it!
I'm thinking about this school as an option for a pre-k kid.
Future EBI Parent?
Our daughter was part of the pioneer class at EBI and our son
starts pre-school there in September. Jon Fulk is the new
director and is an excellent addition to the school. He headed
an IB school in Mexico City and has brought some of those
teachers with him. They are IB certified as well as trainers.
The board is very sensitive to cost issues and has tried to keep
tuition down, compared to many of the other private schools it is
low. The teachers are bought into the PYP and IB curriculum. I
see great things ahead for this school and its students.
Hopefully we will get to know each other. We will be setting up
playdates this summer to ease the transition and start community
In answer to your questions about EBI: The new director, Jon Fulk, is a gem!
curriculum is being implemented as it would be in any IB school, although
is yet to come. Several of the teachers are IB trained already and have
taught in IB
schools in other parts of Latin America. One teacher is an IB
frequently travels to give trainings to teachers in other countries, and
with the EBI staff. In addition to the IB training the teachers are
receiving, they are all
caring, intelligent and dedicated teachers. I have two daughters there and
they are very
happy, as are we. Everyday, they are greeted with smiles and hugs, not just
teachers but by everyone in the office. The parent community is also warm
and very active in supporting the growth of the school. Come by for a parent
I'm sure you will be more impressed than you were the first time.
A happy EBI Parent
The new director is incredible. Bright, dedicated, organized, calm, warm,
respectful of the children and families. He really wants the best for
everyone, and he
The kindergarten teachers are both great, and the 1st/ 2nd grade teacher
is an IB expert who is implementing IB very effectively and training the
are new to it.
Costs? Well, I wish it were free. Private school is a big financial
commitment, but we're
glad to be making it and we hope we can continue all the way through 8th
Send your child there if 1. Bilingual education is very important to you;
2. You really
want your child to learn by inquiry rather than taking top-down instruction
teacher; and 3. You want to participate in growing a school.
Happy at EBI
We've been happy at EBI and thrilled with the new director. The
teachers we've had have been great. Jon, the director, greets
all the children by name and most of them give him hugs when they
see him. At the same time, he has brought a professionalism to
the school that the teachers and parents both appreciate. The IB
program is finally being put into place, the teachers are all
getting training in it, and it is putting some good structure to
the curriculum. Costs are very competitive with other private
schools. I would encourage you to visit the school again to see
how it has grown and, even, matured!
EBI is a wonderful school. My son started there the year the
school opened and is currently in Kindergarten. He loves it,
and so do I. Every one of his teachers has been wonderful and
yes, they really do train in and implement the IB/PYP
curriculum. The evidence of the curriculum is apparent to me
every day, in how my son views the world. You didnmt ask about
language but, for the record, my son spoke only English when he
started, and is now fluent in Spanish. The school community
(which is very diverse, racially, culturally and socio-
economically) is strong, and there is significant family
involvement. People are genuinely excited about being there.
As for the new head of school, Jon Fulk: well, whatever
wrinkles there were in the fabric of EBI, he is ironing them
out. He is that rare person who is both a visionary and a
competent, practical administrator. He also knows every child
and parent, and greets them by name as they arrive in the
morning. Upon enrolling each of the past three years, I felt
that I was taking a leap of faith; with Jon Fulk running
things, I no longer feel that way. Instead, I just feel lucky
to be a part of EBI.
--happy EBI parent
I saw your note about EBI and wanted to give you my thoughts from
having been with the school since it opened (now three years). I
have a son who started in Pre-K (age 3) and is now in Kindergarten.
You asked about the new director and what changes that has
brought to the school. The director was hired as a result of an
international search (applicants came from Chile, Colombia,
Mexico, Paris ... quite astounding actually!) and he has more
than a decade of experience in a dual-immersion Spanish/English
preschool - 12th grade school in Mexico City where he was the
head of the Elementary school. He is wonderful: deeply
passionate about EBI's mission, very personable, a great
educator, a terrific listener (when parents come with concerns),
a great people manager, great with the teachers, super organized,
focused on both the now and the vision. He was able to bring
some teachers with him from Mexico, including one who is a
trainer in the Primary Years Program of the International
Baccalaureate. The teachers are teaching under the IB PYP
curriculum and it's great to see the kids responding to it. I
encourage you to go visit the school and check out the classrooms
All in all, we are super happy: our son has learned a ton, is
really engaged, and is completely bilingual. We're looking
forward to next year when the 3rd graders will start Mandarin!
3rd year EBI parent
We have been at EBI since it started -- so this is our 3rd
year. Even through the growing pains of the first 2 years we
were happy because of the great community around the school
and the shared commitment to the vision. But this year has been
INCREDIBLE. The new school head, John Fulk, is from Mexico
City, where he was a VP at a large school that followed the IB
program. His arrival last summer, combined with EBI maturing a
bit over time, has led to our dreams finally being realized!
The school is run professionally, the environment is very
positive, and the educational experience is top notch. Our son
is in kindergarten and they are definitely realizing the IB
cirriculum -- both kindergarten teachers work together to have a
common approach to the program (with coaching from John, who is
phenomenal). The teachers have also received other training. My
son is entirely bilingual, and thriving. His kindergarten class
recently did a play in which every child participated -- they
created the script and all the parts together as a class. It
was entirely in Spanish, the costumes were amazing, and it was
all part of working on the IB ''organizing ourselves'' section.
It was VERY organized, but each child also got to express his or
herself in a unique way. I have always had love for the school -
- but now I also have the daily experience of being *impressed*
by what is being achieved. The kindergarten kids are reading
and writing in Spanish and English, and doing math and science.
We could not be happier, and we are so so so glad we stuck it
out the first two years in which there were more growing pains.
Oh, and did I mention that the school community (parents,
teachers, volunteers) is still vibrant and wonderful?!
Viva la EBI
I've been hoping someone would ask a question about EBI so I would have an
excuse to rave publicly about our experience there. So thanks for the
EBI is a new school (now in its third year) that has definitely hit its
stride. The new
director, Jon Fulk, is the most energetic and qualified school head I have
encountered. He has a wealth of experience implementing the IB Primary Years
Program, and the energy and vision to make EBI a premier school in the Bay
As a parent, the PYP program hits all of the high points, addressing social
emotional development as well as academic pursuits. But it's not just the
the kids are getting but the love of learning they are developing that is
The faculty are 100% committed to the school's mission and the PYP program.
have created a warm and welcoming learning community, and collaborate like
other group of teachers I have ever seen. One of the kindergarten teachers
worked in international schools around the world said that being in the
of educators at EBI has been the most rewarding professional experience of
And on the language, our child gets no support with Spanish at home, but
three years at the school is completely bilingual, and even asks on occasion
say something in English!
In short, we're thrilled. It's a great community of families and teachers,
dynamics and exciting place to be. It's really hard to imagine being
Fired up EBI parent!
My husband and I are in the early stages of looking at school
options for our sons, and are really excited about the idea of
Spanish immersion; if we were to go the public-school route, our
immersion option would be Leconte Elementary, but we're also
considering looking at the Escuela Bilingue in Oakland. I'm
curious to hear from people who might have made a choice between
those two, or people who have their kids enrolled in one or the
other (or not? Downsides are welcome, too!)
Thanks a lot!
We were also looking at Berkeley Public School's two-way
immersion and EBI. We live in the Central zone so Cragmont was
our 2-way immersion option. Our child was already enrolled at
EBI for preschool but we were leaning towards public school
because it's free. I spent a good deal of time visiting each
grade of the 2-way immersion program at Cragmont and also
visiting the K class at EBI. We decided on EBI for a number of
When a student at EBI speaks to a teacher in English, the
teacher repeats in Spanish what the child just said and,
depending on the situation and grade level, may have the child
then repeat their statement/question in Spanish. That way the
child is not only hearing the teachers speak Spanish but they
also hear and speak their own thoughts in Spanish. If my child
says, lI need a penciln her teacher will prompt her to
say lNecesito un l7piz.n I did not hear this being done at
Cragmont. The students spoke English to the teachers and the
teachers answered in Spanish. This is the critical piece of an
immersion program for determining who can understand Spanish
and who can understand it AND speak it.
I also value the fact that EBI, to the greatest extent
possible, employs native speakers or teachers with native-like
fluency. My child's pronunciation is impeccable. A couple of
the teachers at Cragmont, while fluent, just didnmt have native-
like pronunciation. Not super important but a nice perk.
Perhaps the most compelling reason we chose EBI was the
International Baccalaureate curriculum. The International
Baccalaureate aims to develop linquiring, knowledgeable and
caring young people who help to create a better and more
peaceful world through intercultural understanding and
respect... These programmes encourage students across the world
to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who
understand that other people, with their differences, can also
be right.'' At the center of what EBI does everyday is the IB
Learner Profile: inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers,
communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk- takers,
balanced and reflective.
Excited to be at EBI
EBI students experience constructivist(students create meaning
through experience and discovery), inquiry-based (children
develop questions about the world and then identify ways and
sources of investigation), and transdisciplinary (children
holistically understand complex problems by investigating them
through all academic and artistic disciplines) learning that is
internationally-minded (children understand the world from the
multiple perspectives people use to make meaning of the world)
and action (children change their behavior or take action to
reflect they have learned something new). I highly recommend
you check out the IB website to learn more about IB:
Having said all of this, I do have to comment that EBI is a new
school and has felt some growing pains q nothing uncommon in
the field of education or at a new institution. However, they
have hired a new head of school that starts this July. I was
very impressed by his immediate grasp of the school's strengths
and needs, his shared vision for the future, and his innate
understanding of how to get EBI there. Nonetheless, since it is
a new school, you have to have a bit of the pioneer spirit to
feel comfortable there. But you will be surrounded by an
amazing community of diverse and dedicated families who all
share the same mission as the school.
Excited to be at EBI
I know there are some references to Escuela Bilingue in the
archives, but there aren't a lot. I went on a tour a couple of
weeks ago, and while I thought the preschool looked great --
the kids seemed to be having a grand time -- the parent tour-
guides were really down to earth and friendly, and the building
looks like it has potential (the yard is great), I came away
with doubts in my mind after seeing the kindergarten. I can't
put my finger on it exactly.
Are there people with kids there, particularly in K or 1st
grade? Are you happy with the school? Obviously, I know it's a
brand-new school so growing pains are part of the process. And
the whole idea of an IB, immersion K-8 program is wonderful to
me -- I just wonder what the confidence level is like in terms
of them being able to pull this off. Thanks for any advice,
Mom of Young 5
I've got a kid at the Escuela in the K/1 class and he loves it. I've spent a good
amount of time in the classroom, so I can tell you that the teacher shines best when
you get to know her. She's intelligent and compassionate and she really tries to
understand each child individually. She's thinking not just about academics but
about each child's attitude toward work. She helps them to develop a tolerance for
frustration, a willingness to try something difficult, etc. She's easy to talk to and
open to ideas, including the children's ideas. Over the last two weeks, each child has
had an opportunity to teach a lesson of their own design. One kid talked about
planets, another about farming, a third made her own pinata. It was a lot of fun and
very exciting for the kids.
There are also two other teachers in the classroom: Merly, the assistant, is just who
you want to be there emotionally for your child; and Pilar, the reading teacher, is a
delight. She's doing the Writer's Workshop material with the kids every afternoon in
the most creative and inventive ways. She's got the kids acting out stories before
they sit down to write them. It's really helped the kids conceptualize what a story is.
And yes, I have every confidence that the Board knows what they are doing and are
succeeding. The school is extremely well run administratively.
As a new school, the Escuela does not have everything yet, but what it does offer is
really special: a second language for your child; an international faculty; an
atmosphere of optimism and energy; a great music teacher; a parent community
that is intelligent, dedicated, unpretentious and fun-loving; a faculty that loves
children and receives them with heart and encouragement. We feel grateful for it.
We have a daughter in the K/1 class at EBI. We weren't sure how
it would go since she's one of the youngest in the class, had
been in a non-structured play-based pre-school and has a
limited background in Spanish. After spending a few
weeks "getting comfortable" at EBI, she now seems VERY happy,
engaged and not stressed by the "rigors" of kindergarten. She's
bonded with all three teachers (and has to hug them goodbye) as
well as many of the kids. My daughter has never shared much
what goes on at any school and I haven't spent any time in the
classroom (mostly due my daughter's attachment behavior when
I'm around), so I rely on the teachers and school
materials/work to understand what she's doing. She seems to
enjoy all the activities. She's proud to be learning Spanish
and loves to teach us new words. She's a lefty and had some
challenges with learning to write, but they've really been
helping her and she's shown tremendous improvement in a short
time. She now loves to do "real world" math with us whenever
she can. The only complaints we hear are about normal kid
politics, which are mild compared to her preschool since the
kid "leaders" in this EBI K/1 class are amazingly kind and
I definitely think the language immersion aspect can have an
effect in terms of engagement, especially in the beginning.
During the first few weeks, my daughter didn't understand much
of the Spanish and consequently only really engaged/listened
when spoken to in English. Now that she understands more, she
can better listen/engage with all speaking in the classroom.
Overall, we think EBI is a great kindergarten for her!
Mom of an EBI kindergartener
My son is in the K/1 class at EBI and this is our second year at
the school. While there are definitely some growing pains that
this two-year-old school is still working out, our child's
experience in the classroom has been terrific.
I was leery of having my son in a mixed age classroom b/c EBI is
not a Montessori school and I worried that the teacher and
supporting staff would be ill-equipped to handle the range of
students. All of those fears have been allayed. Jana is an
experienced educator who has done a terrific job of making
lessons fit the varying skill levels of the students.
She is doing a great job of working with the English language
teacher Pilar to ensure that the kids are developing their
reading and writing in Spanish and English. She also does a good
job of keeping order in the class. I can see how you might think
Jana is a bit reserved upon first meeting her, but I assure you
that her students are enthralled by her lessons and enjoy her
My son is thriving at EBI.
EBI K/1 Parent
I can't comment on the kindergarten class in particular, but
wanted to respond to ''I just wonder what the confidence level is
like in terms of them being able to pull this off.''
I suggest that you speak with as many current EBI parents as
possible. For example, if you show up around drop-off or pick-up
time, you will have an opportunity to meet many parents, and
while some will not have time to talk on the spot, I'm sure that
most will be willing to arrange a time to talk. I think you'll
find a wide range of experiences, levels of satisfaction, and
expectations for the future of the school.
We have found the Spanish immersion aspect of the school to be
fabulous, and the parent community to be exceptional. Some of
the teachers are excellent. But leadership and daily management
have been challenges, as evidenced by significant turnover in
teachers after the first year. Part of this is undoubtedly due
to the fact that the founding head of school left at the end of
the first year. She has been replaced by an interim head, who
will in turn be replaced by a new head next year.
The bottom line, I think, is that EBI is a very new school. It
has many wonderful things to offer, but the growing pains are
real. You'll need to weigh these things and decide if it's a fit
for your family.
We have applied to Escuela Bilingue Internacional next year for
the Pre-K program. Iíve heard some great things about the Pre-K
progam and mixed things about the Kindergarten program.
Overall, my information about this new school is pretty
limited. Can EBI parents please fill me in on the strengths of
both the Pre-K program and the Kindergarten program AND any
areas of concern or weakness.
EBI is a very new school: this year was its first year in
operation. My son has been at EBI this past year in a pre-K
class. The goals of EBI are to develop into a Pre-K through 8th
grade bilingual school. The mission of the school is
impressive, and the Board and administrators are really amazing,
committed, competent people. And the parent community and
parent involvement are fantastic. I think the school's future
is *very* bright. That said, as would be true of any new school
opening up for the first year, we have had our share of bumps in
the road. Some of the preschool classes are absolutely stellar,
while others are still catching their stride. My son has been
in one of the classrooms that has taken a bit longer to fully
reflect all the EBI potential (the teacher is very high energy
and loving, but the classroom is much less structured, less
clear communication between parents and teachers to help stress
Spanish at home, etc). So my son is not in the ''best'' class,
but he still has had an awesome experience -- speaking and
singing Spanish, learning to write, talking about the world,
making neat art projects, etc. Relative to my understanding of
how many of my friends' children are experiencing other
preschools, his experience compares favorably. My point I think
is that EBI currently is hitting the ''outstanding'' to ''quite
good'' range. And everyone (teachers, administration, parents)
are working very hard to have it hit ''outstanding'' all the time -
- which is a special feature of the school and community. I
would encourage anyone who is committed to bilingualism and the
general philosophy of International Baccalaureate teaching
program to RUN to EBI to enroll. I think this school is already
very strong, and has the potential to be the best private school
in Oakland/Berkeley, bar none.
true believer, even tho we didn't get the ''best''
I am an EBI Parent of a Kindergartner. My daughter has been extremely
happy at EBI.
She loves her teachers and classmates and has learned a lot this year.
teacher student ratio has also helped a lot. She is actually already
reading in both
Spanish and English. We had a few glitches this year, but very few
given that is was
the first year of the school. The school head taught kindergarten at
the beginning of
the year which didn't work too well so the school hired a separate K
these challenges the school has been very responsive to parent concerns
done everything it can to make the kindergarten experience a positive
one. They are
dedicated to hiring experienced master teachers and we are sure next
year will be
Overall, EBI is a loving school environment. Teachers really care about
and the parent community is welcoming. Students are challenged and it
to see the students become fluent in Spanish in such a short time. We
happy there and more importantly our child is happy and learning. I
recommend EBI to prospective parents.
For a school that just opened AND with the lowest enrollment fee
of any NAIS school in the East Bay, Escuela Bilingue is surely
a great bargain.
Why my son loves the school?
He's currently in the Kindergarten class.
The emerging currilum/International Baccalaureate structure
allows him to figure out the world and learn AT HIS PACE while
validating his view of the world and making him open up to the
value of others' perspectives.
The IB curriculum is concept-based so kids are taught to think
ABOUT and ENGAGE WITH what they're learning, as opposed to what I
grew up with which was to memorize LOTS of facts without even
knowing why I had to know them. Critical thinking, basically.
Because he's the youngest in his class, he's still not reading in
English as well as some of his classmates. His reading in
Spanish is quite good though and his teacher and Assistant are to
be commended for that. My son loves the warmth he gets from the
teachers and staff. He enjoys the fact that he's already able to
see how people in different Latin-American countries have
different words and accents (there's at least 5 different
countries represented in teachers/staff). Last week he asked why
Spanish people use a lisp when speaking Spanish. Because they
emphasize plurality, my son will be able to feel at home in any
Latin American country he goes to (today he said he wants to
visit the country where the song Guantanamera comes from...but
we'll wait for the embargo to be lifted, I guess).
His favorite part is music class. He ABSOLUTELY LOVES his music
teacher, who comes twice a week to his class, is a well-known Bay
Area performer and teacher at Berkeley's school of Jazz. Her
rapport with the kids is amazingly professional. She treats them
like little musicians and gives the kids her very best. They've
had two performances this year and hopefully there's more in the
Why me and my wife like it? We are a multilingual
household--three different languages are used at home. I am also
a trained French language and Literature teacher and know that
EBI's approach to language teaching will serve the children who
go there well. I volunteer to help out in his classroom at least
twice a month and am surprised to see how even the kids who have
no one to practice Spanish with at home can now talk to me with
Have there been snags? Of course there have. The biggest was the
fact that the Head of the school was also the kindergarten
teacher and, unfortunately, that meant she was quite overwhelmed.
But together with the support of parents and the board, she
worked hard to hire a new teacher who is fully dedicated to the
class and is always available for anyone who wishes to meet with
her about their children.
In general though, the snags have actually resulted in parents
coming together to make recommendations to the board and Head to
improve the school. In the process, many of us have realized
that Head, parents and board are all working with a common goal:
to make ESCUELA BILINGUE INTERNACIONAL the model for other
Spanish bilingual schools in the country. Because parents,
boardmembers and head are working together, I know that next year
will be the year we go on the map for having a long waiting list.
Overall, I am lucky to have found Escuela Bilingue and lucky to
be part of the founding years. It would be easy to go to a
well-established school that is already running smoothly and
doesn't demand any effort on my part. But I think that part of
my child's education should also reflect my own willingness to
make a heartfelt effort to build a school for him and his
classmates that embodies the values and global vision me and my
family hold dear. If I am hoping that EBI will help these
children change the world, why can't I reciprocate in advance and
do my best to change EBI, each day, for the better? This is
actually a contagious attitude I've caught from some of the
people I've met there. Best regards and I hope we can also count
on your family joining us!
We're the parents of a preschool boy who will be five years old
in early Oct. '07. He is currently in his second year at a
coop preschool and we're wondering what to do with him next
year re: third year of preschool vs. kindergarten. We have
been following the development and grand opening of the Escuela
Bilingue in Rockridge very closely; we would love to hear from
parents of pre-K and Kinder students at EBI to hear what you
like about the program, any concerns, generally ''how things are
going.'' Specifically, any input on how the school's size and
learning environment would help/hinder a highly verbal, bright,
but slow-to-warm, somewhat shy boy would be appreciated. Just
FYI, he is being raised in a bilingual English/Spanish home.
Thanks in advance for the input!
Our son started at EBI, and I was VERY concerned about how he'd
transition - he's
very slow to warm up, and is going through an intense
things stage. I met with his teacher, Angela, two weeks before school
was immediately soothed by the way she engaged him from the get go --
respected his space, got down on his level, and allowed him to come to
her as he
felt more comfortable. From day one we have been so surprised at how
easily he has
entered the classroom; all of his teachers (there are 4 in the youngest
are loving, warm, and really great with children. You'd expect that,
but when I was
touring schools I was surprised to see many people who did not have
that skill. Our
son has heard some Spanish at home, but not a lot, and has quickly
picked up on all
the language basics, singing, counting and responding to questions in
have a break this week, and every morning he is saddened to learn it's
not a ''go to
school day''. Our son is very bright (really, not just my opinion!) and
stimulated and engaged by all of his activities at school, from the
learning new social skills. We've also enjoyed the parent community at
EBI, as well as
the teachers and administration. All of the classes are relatively
small, especially the
K class, which currently has only 10 students. All classes include TAs
that bring the
ratio to 1:6 or 1:5, depending on the classroom and the students needs.
helps - I know there is an open house tomorrow night at EBI, so you
might want to
check it out.
So far so good for us at EBI. We are in the younger Mid-K group
at EBI. It was a tough call for us to move our child to EBI
because we were very pleased with the preschool he was attending.
In the end we decided to make the move so that we could be a
part of the school from the start. We have found the teachers in
both his classroom and the after-care program to be warm and
loving and we are pleased with the variety and depth of
activities and exercises available to our child. He is
developing terrific friendships, great confidence in his
abilities and mastery of Spanish in this true immersion program.
I have been extremely impressed not only with my child's
language development, but also with his growing knowledge and
appreciation for different cultures as well.
Because EBI is a brand new school, I expected things to be a
little chaotic at the outset, but I have been pleasantly
surprised by how smoothly things have been running. That said
there is definitely room for improvement. I hope that as the
school year progesses and the school gets its bearings there will
be better systems put in place for communicating with parents.
Otherwise, we really don't have any complaints.
If you choose EBI for your child I think you will find that the
community is welcoming and vibrant and one in which it will be
easy for you to get involved. I think EBI is really off to a
great start and encourage you to keep exploring it as an option
for your family. Best of luck
Happy EBI family
My almost-four-year-old son goes to EBI. He loves it, and so do
his father and I. His teachers are warm and bright, the
activities in his classroom are age-appropriate and stimulating,
and he comes home from school jazzed about various projects the
class has worked on during the day (making apple juice, building
a rocket ship, etc). Although the school is already somewhat
large, the student-teacher ratio in each classroom is 18:3. So,
each child is getting plenty of individual attention. Teachers
and administrators are responsive to parents as well, in my
experience. The school community is very diverse, with children
of many races, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. EBI offers
need-based financial aid, so there is also some valuable socio-
economic diversity that is missing in many private pre-schools.
My son is coming from a Montessori environment, and EBI's
program is less structured (particularly in the after-school
care). I had some trepidation about how my son would respond to
that change, but my concern was unwarranted; he is thriving. Of
course everyone who enrolls at EBI at this stage is taking a
certain leap of faith that this brand-new school will be well
run. I expected a lot of bumps in the road as we all found our
groove, but there have been remarkably few problems. I
attribute this to the high caliber and commitment of the people
running the school. The board members, the founding head
(Graciela), the Preschool Director (Berta) and the Chair (Liza)
are all incredibly experienced and competent. When there are
problems, they seem to deal with them quickly and
appropriately. Another thing that I love about the school is
the sense of community. Many if not all of the families are
involved in some way (improving facilities, planning the
inaugural party, fund-raising, etc.), which both increases the
feeling of commitment to the school and allows parents to get to
know each other. It is great to walk down the hallway in the
morning and exchange greetings with t familiar children and
parents around you. People are genuinely EXCITED about being
there. Your son is already bilingual, so you presumably don't
have concerns about the immersion aspect, but my son spoke
almost no Spanish when he started. He is already speaking a
good deal of Spanish at home, and clearly understands much, much
more based on how he responds to his teachers. I feel like I am
gushing over this school (I am not a gusher), but I really think
it is a wonderful place. If things continue as they are now, my
family will be at EBI for the long haul. Best of luck to you in
--- Happy EBI Parent
I have heard a lot of good things about Escuela Bilingue Internacional
but not much about their summer camp. I am planning to send my 4 year
old to a Spanish camp so any thoughts?
Our experience with EBI summer camp is that they do a really good
job both at the Spanish language (whether your child comes in
knowing any Spanish or none at all) as well as the cultural
experiences. The teachers are well-educated native Spanish
speakers who grew up in other countries, and they are great at
bringing elements of culture from around the world to life.
During the summer they are able to do this in their program to
even a greater degree than during the school year because of the
two week themed camps.
The kids have lots of fun, learn a lot, and leave their
experience with a better understanding of the big exciting
international community we live in.
Hope this helps.
Re: Spanish/English camp for 6-year-old
Escuela Bilingue Internacional has just posted their summer camp sessions. They
run full and half day immersion programs. My son goes to school there and is
6 years old. The camp should be really great this summer. I don't have the
information with me as they just gave it to us on Friday, but you should be able
find it on their website which is: http://www.ebinternacional.org/en/index.html
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!
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