Imagine sitting down to dinner at your favorite, authentic Mexican restaurant and having your 7 year old speak in fluent Spanish to the native speaker taking your order. The waiter is so impressed that he returns to the table with the cook to hear your son or daughter speak easily in a second language. For 200 students and families in Jension, this is their reality as their child [or children] are enrolled in the Spanish Immersion program at Rosewood and Bursley Elementary Schools.
In just two months, Jenison families of pre-schoolers will begin lining up at the Administration Offices to hand in an application for their student to become part of program that includes grades K — 3 and next year, 4th grade as well. “Recent brain research indicates that learning a second language is a powerful experience that helps the brain of a young child develop. The young brain will actually grow the connections needed to learn the language.” [Source: Dumas, L.S. (1999). Learning a Second Language: Exposing Your Child to a New World of Words Boosts Her Brainpower, Vocabulary, and Self-Esteem/ Child February, 72, 74, 76-77.]
“The main benefit is that our Spanish immersion students are learning to read, write and speak in another language as they learn everything else that elementary students learn in Jenison. Research tells us that over time their academic skills and abilities will surpass their non-immersion peers due to this early learning of a second language.”
— Lloyd Gingerich, Rosewood Principal
Students immediately begin learning in a Spanish only environment and teachers will utilize a variety of creative techniques such as songs, choral responses and movement to help students learn and understand. Because of this focus on oral comprehension, students are ultimately able to begin using Spanish at their own pace.
A Rosewood 1st grader is escorted across the Bridge is in this special ceremony.
Yesterday, the Rosewood class of first graders participated in an important ceremony: Crossing the Bridge. This takes place mid-way through the first grade year and from this point on students are expected to only use Spanish in the classroom. Until now, students know that they can fall back on English when they get stuck on a word they don’t know but that will no longer be the case. Students will be expected to use the Spanish words they do know to explain what they mean or ask for the meaning of a word. They are crossing the bridge into speaking only Spanish! It’s a very special day and parents and other Spanish Immersion classes were in attendance to celebrate and honor this milestone.
And as our students have experienced first-hand, learning a second language isn’t just about vocabulary; it comes with a broader knowledge and appreciation of the culture that comes with it.
“Our students sound ‘authentic’ in their Spanish because they learn from such an early age and learn to speak with an accent. We have staff who represent Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Chile, Mexico, Costa Rica and Bolivia so students are exposed to different accents and vocabulary building a richer understanding of the language.”
— Rane Garcia, Bursley Principal
Graduates and Spanish Speakers!
Parents can complete an application for their rising Kindergartner after the screening process is complete. Please note that they will only be accepted at the Jenison Center for the Arts from Monday, March 24 beginning at 7:30am through Friday, March 28 at 4:00pm. You can learn more about this amazing program and download an application by visiting the Spanish Immersion website.