Growing up Spanish was my first language. My parents experienced growing up in the U.S. only knowing Spanish and it’s an experience they will never forget. Teachers would not acknowledge or tend to their needs unless they spoke English. My parents did not want me to struggle and be put in ESL programs growing up so they took away opportunities they did not know I could have had. My parents did not understand the future need for bilingual speakers is now a growing need within the U.S. Relearning the language within school has been challenging where I now mainly understand Spanish than speak it. It’s tough being one of the only few members of my dad or moms side of the family that only speaks English. Spanish seems like the only connection within my family because that’s how they communicate. When there are family parties I can only help but be quiet and feel lost when family members converse. None the less, growing up is east-side San Jose has made it more difficult for me to fit in when I’m the only Latina that does not speak Spanish. Because predominantly San Jose is a Hispanic city the need for bilingual workers is at a high demand. My parents were uneducated and unaware of the fact that maintaining multiple languages was actually a gain that when they took away my Spanish it was a great loss. Why take away the opportunity that can create a better future for your child? Immersion programs is an opportunity to create more opportunities for your child.
When looking for an immersion program it is important to look for a program that offers a great education and has a culture along with it. “The Universidad Latina in Heredia provides top-notch academics while organizing rich cultural excursions, such as museum visits, coffee farm tours, cooking classes, and city tours to ensure you understand life as a tico (native Costa Rican)”! (Niesen) For one to endure learning a language is just not with the language itself, but to learn around the culture of the language. This can make it a fun learning process, which can make it easier to learn. Trying to avoid learning the culture of the language if you want to thoroughly learn and interact with its speakers. A good immersion program isn’t made for the “majority language” but for the minority. “….if districts say they created the program to satisfy the needs of English speakers who want to become bilingual, they don’t tend to be good programs because they don’t use the research on language minority students”. (Garcia) Immersion programs make the programs for every one of the majority and minority because sometimes for the minority it is not a choice. The focus should be on the minority culture.
When you find an immersion program you’re interested in it is good to look for certain signs of how the program is positively effective. One of the many things that make a program effective is maintaining the learning language throughout the day in the classroom. “Your local professors will speak the language in your classroom, your assignments will all be in the language of your host country, and you’ll be expected to speak to your classmates only using that language you’re learning (no English allowed)” said Danielle Desimone in “Why language immersion programs are so important”. To become uncomfortable in a situation sometimes can make it easier for a student to learn. A student in Speaking in Tongues had to personally figure out what the teacher was saying without any knowledge of the language. This made him have to quickly think and figure out exactly what the teacher needed him to do.
Not only does immersion programs offer your child scholar education but gives you the education to become a proficient bilingual worker. “Over the past five years, demand for bilingual workers in the United States more than doubled. In 2010, there were roughly 240,000 job postings aimed at bilingual workers; by 2015, that figure had ballooned to approximately 630,000”, says the New American Economy (NAE) in “Demand for Bilingual Workers”. The demand for bilingual workers is growing rapidly as years pass. Giving your child this opportunity will almost guarantee your child a job in today’s workforce. The U.S. has become a diverse country that most companies can not get by anymore with just English. The NAE continues to state in “Demand for Bilingual Workers” that, “Employers are increasingly looking for workers who can speak Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic”. Many immersion programs provide multiple languages based on communities languages. These languages are included in many programs due to the growth of each languages population. Katie Johnston from the Boston Globe discusses, “Which job seekers on in hot demand” which are, “Banks…cellphone providers …Software firms… And healthcare providers looking to serve the immigrants in their communities”. Not only one employer is in high demand for bilingual workers but yet multiple workforces are in open arms for the bilingual community. Your child will be given opportunity with choices about what they want to do for their future.
Multiculturalism is offered in between the immersion programs. Multiculturalism is important because it gives the student the opportunity to show different cultures perspectives. Robert Johnson talks about the importance of multiculturalism in Immersion Education: International Perspectives, “One of the four principal goals of immersion programs in the United States is that students learn about and understand the culture(s) of people who speak the immersion language”. In the school in the movie, Speaking in Tongues, their program incorporates this by celebrating the different cultures holidays or specifically teaching that cultures history. This opens the student’s mind to all the different possibilities given from different cultures, that just because others are different and from a different background doesn’t mean their not normal. Tara W. Fortune in “What the research says about Immersion” said, “Becoming bilingual leads to new ways of conceptualizing yourself and others. It expands your worldview so that you not only know more, you know differently”. When being taught about the differences of other cultures can make you realize that you are not all that different. With this students create stronger bonds between the culture and the cultures people. The immersion program educates and creates this awareness of others and their cultures which can allow your student to become empathetic, patient with one another, and break the language barrier.
Many parents may think that they don’t need an immersion school that they can teach their child another language. Without the education plan given with the immersion programs, students will not be taught the proper language they need to succeed. In the movie Speaking in Tongues, parents did not understand the need to send their child to immersion because they thought because they know the language they could teach it themselves. Many parents may think that because they speak a different language at home their kids don’t need to learn it in school along with English. What parents should understand is though they speak the language at home it is not the same as being fully literate in the language as well. Many students may be proficient in speaking and possible writing but not in the professional manner needed. A student has experienced immersion first hand and has dealt with, “..the disadvantages of going to an immersion program for me has been not being able to spell very well in English”. (Heidman) With immersion programs, they will teach the equal amount of both English and foreign language. This will help the student to not get languages confused and be proficient in both languages.
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DeSimone, Danielle. “Are Language Immersion Programs All They’re Cracked Up to Be?” GoAbroad.com, 21 Sept. 2017, www.goabroad.com/articles/language-study-abroad/language-immersion-programs.
“Demand for Bilingual Workers More than Doubled in 5 Years, New Report Shows.” New American Economy, 1 Mar. 2017, www.newamericaneconomy.org/press-release/demand-for-bilingual-workers-more-than-doubled-in-5-years-new-report-shows/.
Johnston, Katie. “Which Job Seekers Are in Hot Demand? Bilingual Workers. – The Boston Globe.” BostonGlobe.com, 13 Mar. 2017, www.bostonglobe.com/business/2017/03/12/wanted-bilingual-workers/t8C9txqPmwCtIGDHX1jSTI/story.html.
Johnson, Robert Keith. Immersion Education International Perspectives. Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997.
Coyle, Laurie. Speaking in Tongues. Speakingintonguesfilm.info, Apr. 2009, www.speakingintonguesfilm.info/.
Fortune, Tara Williams. “What the Research Says About Immersion.” What the Research Says About Immersion – Tara Williams Fortune, 8 Dec. 2017, 12:44, carla.umn.edu/immersion/documents/ImmersionResearch_TaraFortune.html.
Heideman, Annie. “Bilingual Reflections of an Immersion Student.” The Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA): Articulation of Language Instruction, Feb. 2004, carla.umn.edu/immersion/acie/vol7/Feb2004_Bilingual_Reflections.html
Niesen, Carrie. “The Best Spanish Immersion Programs Around the World.” Go Overseas, 10 Apr. 2018, www.gooverseas.com/blog/best-spanish-immersion-programs.
Garcia, Amaya. “Creating a Strong Dual Immersion Program.” New America, 27 July 2015, www.newamerica.org/education-policy/edcentral/beeman-part-two/.
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