Immersion is a means of teaching students a second language. Students learn content through the second language. Immersion schools are responsible for same state standards and curriculum as other public Minnesota schools.
Immersion has been used in Canada for over 35 years, and Immersion schools are gaining popularity as an effective method of language learning. In reality, the immersion concept has been around for thousands of years since it is the way all of us learn our native language. In immersion, language learning is done in such a natural way that students are comfortable with the instruction. Children are excellent mimics. They are eager, curious and less self-conscious than adults in experimenting with and acquiring new languages.
Immersion means that subject content is presented to children in a natural way. Children learn the second language in much the same way they acquired their first language. Below are the following websites of national organizations that provide detailed explanations of immersion and research on immersion:
The Rochester Public Schools Language Immersion Model is unique in Minnesota. There is a school-within-a-school option in each of our District’s elementary schools. The program began in 2007 with kindergarten and grade 1. Today, our immersion students have successfully progressed into our middle schools and high school, and the District is committed to supporting world language growth through graduation.
Families who enroll their children in kindergarten are asked to make at least a six-year commitment to the immersion program.
At grade 6, students move to one of our middle schools where students transition to an immersion continuation model. Students have an 87-minute block of instruction in the second language that covers social studies and world language curriculum. This model has been carefully designed to ensure continued development of the immersion language while allowing full access to honors and elective courses for all students.
Some immersion teachers may be are native speakers, although this is not a requirement. Teachers must have a Minnesota elementary teaching license and be highly proficient in the language of instruction. Our teachers have traveled or lived abroad and have an excellent understanding of other cultures and the value of global education.
During kindergarten and first grade, all instruction is in the second language. Students may use English, but their classroom teachers respond in the second language. As students become more accustomed to hearing and understanding the second language, they are encouraged to express themselves in the second language.
Outside of school, parents are asked to read to or with their child everyday in English, which is the same advice given to non-immersion students' families.
In third grade, direct instruction in English and reading strategies begin. Students work on spelling rules, parts of speech and some basic writing skills. The amount of English language arts instruction increases at the upper elementary grades.
Students will eventually acquire the same English language skills as the students in English-only settings. At every grade level, reading to and with your child at home is imperative for your child’s language development.