Why not wait for my child to learn a second language until high school? High school foreign language programs teach languages separately from other academic subjects in the day, thereby reducing the opportunities for natural language acquisition. Students in a dual language program spend the majority of the school day learning in the second language for years before entering high school.
Will a second language interfere with my child’s English ability? No. Research shows that students who achieve advanced levels of proficiency in two languages often experience cognitive and linguistic advantages when compared to monolingual students. Bilingual students perform better on tasks that require divergent thinking, pattern recognition and problem solving, and have higher levels of metalinguistic awareness.
Do Dual Language students learn the same curriculum as the regular English program? Absolutely! The standards and curriculum at La Ballona are the same as for all students in the Culver City Unified School District. The only difference is the language of instruction.
Does it matter if no one at home speaks the second language? No. The home language must be kept up in the home. Read to your children daily! Talk to your children daily, and have them talk to you! Continue the literacy experiences you would naturally encourage. One of the advantages of this program is that students with strong language skills (in English or Spanish) succeed in the program.
How will my child understand if he/she does not speak the second language? Teachers in the Dual Language Program are specially trained to make the information meaningful through the use of visuals, objects, gestures, and specialized instructional strategies. The students also help each other!
What about reading in English? In order to avoid confusion, language of instruction is separated. During English time, students are exposed to English instruction beginning Kindergarten. Parents are also encouraged to read to their child in English if you so desire, and accept any attempt (with no pressure) to read in English on your child's part.
Is any English used in the Dual Language classroom? Yes, during English time. During target language time, the teacher only speaks Spanish. However, student expression is accepted in whichever language the student uses.
How can parents support their child in the program? Participate! Show your interest. Discuss what your child is learning. Listen to him/her read in the target language. Try to learn the second language along with your child, if you do not speak the other language.