A Milestone in the School Year
We have passed the mid-point of the fall semester! This is a great time to take a look back at what we have done over the past two months. We opened for our first full academic year in August. Students in our Mandarin Chinese program started that month and students in our French program started after Labor Day. We are proud of what we have accomplished so far this school year and would like to take this opportunity to share our progress.
Language Progress for Beginners
We have a diverse group of students. Some have a family member who speak to them in French or Chinese, and some do not. All students, no matter what language level they have when they start our program, can benefit from the language immersion environment. After two months, our students who began the program as zero beginners can understand all the basic language that their teachers use in class. They understand when their teacher says things like “drink water,” “sit nicely,” “line up” and “wash hands.”
Rich Development for Heritage Speakers
Students who started this semester as zero beginners are also sometimes spontaneously using words and phrases in French or Chinese. All of our students can sing the songs that we frequently use during the school day. Students who began the school year with a higher level of French or Chinese are using new words and more complex sentences. For more on what parents can expect to see and hear in their child’s language development, please see our post on the stages of language acquisition. Full-time students in our immersion program get at least five to six hours a day in either French or Chinese. This means that they get 30X the exposure to a language compared to students in a program that only offers language one class a week.
A Well-Rounded Curriculum
International School of San Antonio students follow a content-specific curriculum. So far this year, the children have learned about their five senses, the lifecycle of butterflies, still-life paintings, different types of homes that people live in all around the world, and much more. Not only do they learn about all these topics, but they do it in Chinese or French!
Learning About Culture in the Immersion Classroom
No immersion education would be complete without teaching children about the cultures of the places where our languages are spoken. In our French class, Madame Fouchal has taught the students about different kinds of art from France and Europe and songs from France and French-speaking Africa. In the Chinese class, we celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival in early October and also taught the children how to make simple Chinese paper cuts.
In additional to hearing the children speak French or Chinese, one of the great delights of our program is seeing the friendships develop between the children. As Maria Montessori said, children need “the society of other children.” Children at ISSA love engaging in pretend play together. During our outdoor time, we often hear them pretending to be bears or monsters. Other times, children like to pretend play that they are a family. It is so sweet to hear them call each other “mom” and “dad.”
With all that we have been able to do so far this semester, we are excited about what lies in store for us for the rest of the academic year. Over the next few months, we expect to hear the children speak more and more French and Chinese as they continue to learn through our well-rounded curriculum.
Thank you to our families and team for a great start to the year!