"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." - Ludwig Wittgenstein, Austrian PhilosopherWhat is Immersion?Language immersion programs allow students to learn content such as Math, Science, and Social Studies through another language. Students learn the same content they would in a traditional classroom, but they also learn the other language at the same time. Immersion programs begin in Kindergarten and students acquire the target language, such as Spanish or Chinese, through a natural process of language acquisition. As students progress through the grade levels, their languages skills build so that they are able to continue to learn increasingly complex content through the target language. Through immersion programs, students are able to become bilingual and biliterate, developing high levels of proficiency in the target language as well as high achievement in English Language Arts and other content areas. See more about the characteristics of immersion programs and this brochure for more information.
In dual immersion there are two groups of students involved in the program. One half of the students in the program are native speakers of the target language, such as Spanish, and the other half of the students are native English speakers. The goal in such a program is bilingualism and biliteracy for both groups of students. Current research in North Carolina shows that students in dual immersion programs score at or above the level of their monolingual peers on standardized tests. In addition, this research shows that dual immersion programs can close the achievement gap for all groups of students. Drs. Wayne Thomas and Virginia Collier are still conducting this longitudinal study, but summaries of preliminary findings are available.
Currently in WS/FCS, we have four immersion programs. A Chinese immersion program is available at Konnoak Elementary and a Spanish dual immersion program is available at Ashley Elementary, both of which are district wide magnet schools. Smith Farm Elementary began a Spanish dual immersion program with the first Kindergarten class in 2013-14. Speas Elementary also began a Spanish dual immersion program in 2013-14. Both Smith Farm and Speas are open to students in those attendance zones. More information can be found at the schools' websites. The Center for Applied Linguistics also provides information about the benefits of immersion programs.What is the Global Schools Network?
Global Schools Network, or GSN, is an education and economic development initiative, begun in NC, and coordinated by VIF International Education. It began with cooperation and support from U.S. Department of State and North Carolina's State Board of Education, Departments of Public Instruction and Commerce, and the N.C. Business Committee for Education. Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools is a founding member of the GSN.
It is a partnership of schools and organizations with the goal of providing our students with the skills they need for a “flat world” in which they will compete with and work with people from all over the globe. The objective is to help prepare students with the Future Ready and 21st century skills needed for a global economy, regardless of an intended career or occupation.At the elementary level, schools can choose to participate in Global Gateway or Passport programs. In a Global Gateway program, professional development is provided for the teachers on one or more grade levels, along with administrators, to help them look at their core curriculum with an international focus, planning lessons that integrate knowledge of other countries and cultures with the regular curriculum. This is much more than “flags and fiestas”, which are the easy things to see in a culture. Culture is about products, practices, and perspectives, all of which can be influenced by history and geography. Global Gateway programs help teachers integrate this knowledge naturally with other content so that students learn to view the world not only from our own local perspective, but from other perspectives as well. Typically a Global Gateway grade level will focus on a particular continent for integration in the core curriculum. A Passport program is one in which all grade levels in a school participate in the Global Gateway professional development and curriculum integration.Currently all of the immersion schools, Ashley, Konnoak, Smith Farm, and Speas Elementary Schools, are participating in the Passport program."One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way." – Frank Smith, contemporary psycho-linguist from Harvard University