By: Lissa Weidenfeller, Principal, North Rockford Middle School Immersion education in the United States is a form of bilingual education in which native English speakers are immersed in classrooms that use another language to teach the students the district’s curriculum. The purpose of this type of education differs from traditional second language classes as students learn content through the target language. Rockford Public Schools is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Spanish Immersion program, which started in 2006. The first students in the program will be entering their sophomore year in high school. The Rockford Spanish Immersion program follows a 90/10 model and so students are immersed in Spanish instruction 90% of the time beginning in kindergarten. English instruction is slowly added to the students’ daily schedule so that by the high school level, they have one hour of Spanish instruction and the rest is in English. Three middle school Spanish Immersion students were interviewed and asked their thoughts about being educated in this non-traditional way. What do you enjoy most about being in an immersion program? The students highlighted their favorite parts of being an immersion student, such as being able to communicate with people they never would have been able to, traveling with ease, and being part of their Spanish Immersion community. Laughing, many of the students shared how fun it was to shock Spanish speakers, because by looking at them, no one would ever think they would be fluent in Spanish. The students also shared the fact that they enjoy being able to share their knowledge by teaching their parents and friends. The main factor that all the interviews shared was the clear understanding that being bilingual would open doors for them in the future. What do you think being educated in an immersion program will do for your future? The students all thought that being in an immersion program will help them in the future, primarily when it comes to their future careers. The students mentioned not only the benefits of being bilingual while working in the US, but having the opportunities to work internationally as well. The students also stated that being bilingual will allow them to meet and help others, translate for others, travel and understand others, […]
Rockford Spanish Immersion
Talented and resourceful student encourages others Sadie Smyth, 10, is the daughter of Bill and Pam Smyth and sister to Jacob, 15, and Eli, 7. Sadie is described as enthusiastic and full of energy and life. This young lady is caring and quick to volunteer for anything. She is also known as a friendly yet respectful student. Sadie’s friends look to her as a leader and problem-solver who will be fair and honest. She creates cards and encouraging notes and gifts for others. A talented and resourceful person, when she was nine, Sadie made a piñata for her cousin’s birthday. Well-grounded as a giving person, Sadie participates in Jump Rope for Heart and Relay for Life. She also helped set up a large garage sale as a fundraiser for her Hockey Fights Cancer Relay team. She has donated her hair to Locks for Love and is a volunteer safety at Roguewood Elementary School. A fun person to be around, Sadie is always upbeat, and her positive attitude is infectious to those around her. Because she truly cares about others, she brings out their best qualities as well. Described as “sweet,” Sadie is always looking for ways to help others, whether by encouraging them when they are down or giving a helping hand. Among her hobbies are drawing, writing, reading, and soccer, where she plays on the U11-A SCOR team. She has also played hockey for six years with the Rockford Hockey Association. This year Sadie hung up her hockey skates in order to pursue other sports, including lacrosse and snowboarding. She is an active member of Blythefield Hills Baptist Church. Because Sadie is a student who always works to find ways to help others, and because of her persistently cheerful attitude, she is the Rockford Spanish Immersion Example in Excellence for 2011.
Program develops cultural appreciation At Rockford Spanish Immersion, students learn the district’s core curriculum through Spanish rather than English. In other words, students are “immersed” into the language and study the same content as other students, but while doing so, naturally learn to read, write and speak in Spanish. There are three main goals of immersion education. The primary goal is for students to master the district’s curriculum objectives at each grade level. A second goal is to develop a high level of proficiency in Spanish without any sacrifice to the student’s English language skills. Lastly, the goal of immersion is to give students an understanding, knowledge and appreciation for other cultures while learning in a multicultural setting. Rockford Spanish Immersion currently enrolls 300 students in kindergarten through fifth grade and is beginning its sixth school year with a new enrollment of kindergarten students. For parents who would like to provide their kindergarten child with the opportunity to become functionally proficient in both English and Spanish, immersion is a research-proven educational option. If interested in this option and enrolling your future kindergartener in Rockford Spanish Immersion for the next school year, plan on attending the upcoming Parent Information Night scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 13, at 5:30 p.m. at Roguewood Elementary School. Details for enrollment and the application process will be shared at this meeting. Additionally, immersion classroom tours will be held on January 18 and 25 and February 1 starting at 9:00 a.m. Please contact the Roguewood office if interested in a tour. Open kindergarten enrollment will begin on January 31 and last until March 4, 2011. An application must be submitted during this timeline to be considered. You can learn more about Rockford Spanish Immersion at www.rockfordschools.org/?i=SpanishImmersion.