Rolling Terrace Spanish Language Immersion Program
Two-Way Language Immersion Information (MCPS Website)
Language education that starts early and involves children in daily communication and content learning allows children to develop a second language as naturally as they learned their first language. Learning a second language allows students to communicate with more people. Studies indicate that learning a second language helps children to be more creative, and better at solving problems. Furthermore, other studies have found that students who participate in an immersion program score the same or better than their peers on achievement tests. However, learning a language is a process and fluency is gained over years, not days or semesters. One way language immersion programs in the United States are by definition foreign language programs, programs to learn a second (non-English) language. Given the diversity of our population at Rolling Terrace Elementary School, some of our immersion students may also speak Spanish or other languages at home, in addition to English.
At Rolling Terrace E.S., we have a partial Spanish immersion program. The instructional language, Spanish, is learned as a result of learning the curricular content in Spanish. Our students receive instruction in English for some of the curricular areas and Spanish for the other curricular areas. Kindergarten classes are the only exception. In kindergarten, Spanish immersion students remain with their Spanish teacher all day and receive instruction in all subject areas in Spanish. The goals of the program are to develop the abilities of students to understand, speak, read, and write in both English and Spanish. Students are accepted into the program based on parents' interest and program space. No Spanish is required for entry in kindergarten and first grade. For entry into the program after first grade the student must show command of Spanish commensurate with the children already enrolled in the specific grade level. An immersion teacher interviews and administers an assessment to a prospective student; a team of educators meet and make a recommendation to the principal on admittance to the program.
Kindergarten-First Grade (Two-Way Language Immersion Program)
Two-Way Immersion is an educational model in which students develop high levels of speaking, reading, writing, and listening in English and in Spanish (or another non-English language). Teachers deliver the same academic content and standards (MCPS Curriculum) as traditional classroom teachers, while providing instruction in two languages. Ideally Two-Way Immersion classes are comprised of a fairly equal balance of native English-speaking students and native Spanish-speaking students. Native speakers of each language serve as fluent peer models of the language. The students receive lessons from two teachers; one providing academic instruction in English, and the other providing academic instruction in Spanish. Teachers are native or near-native speakers of the target language.
The goal is to immerse the children in a second language environment while teaching the Montgomery County Public Schools curriculum. Utilizing Spanish for instruction for the whole day helps to avoid the confusion that students would encounter by having to shift languages and teachers half-way through the day. Children are permitted to use English, but the teacher uses Spanish in almost all situations. Many visual aids, "big books", hands-on materials, and much body language are used to insure the children's understanding. As the children develop basic Spanish classroom vocabulary, they are encouraged to use these new expressions.
Second– Fifth Grade (Partial Immersion)
Beginning in second grade, the immersion students have two teachers. They will go part of the day to study the reading/language arts and social studies curricula from the English teacher. The other part of the day they will be with the immersion teacher studying the math and science curricula in Spanish. Immersion lessons are purposefully planned to maximize language learning through the content areas covered. Teachers include culture lessons and reading and writing experiences in the curricular area lessons.
During these years, children are increasingly expected to use more of the new language to communicate (orally and in writing) about the subject area and in their classroom experiences. Parents are encouraged to reinforce the new learning at home, allowing students to share their Spanish language experiences and deepening concept understanding in their home language.
In fifth grade, in preparation for the middle school world studies Spanish immersion curriculum, the majority of time in immersion is dedicated to science, social studies/culture topics and reading/writing in Spanish. The students will go to an English teacher for Reading/language arts, social studies and math.
Evaluation and Reporting
Students receive the regular report cards with teacher comments regarding the progress in the second language. Students participate in the same standardized testing in English as their peers in the English classrooms. In addition, third, fourth, and fifth grade students will have specific content-based written assignments scored to provide information on the development of the Spanish language.
Enrollment is open to any Montgomery County Public School child entering kindergarten. Children in our attendance area are considered for the program based on parental request. Children from outside our attendance area are accepted through the school system's change of school assignment (COSA) process. A request for COSA is completed through a child's home school between February 1 and April 1. For information on the transfer process call your home school and/or Dr. Stan Truman (pupil personnel worker) at 301-649-8083.
Exiting the program
On rare occasions, Spanish immersion is not deemed the best program for a particular child. If there are concerns about first language development or language processing difficulties, immersion might add an unnecessary level of difficulty and frustration for a child. Close communication between the child's parents, teachers, and other school professionals can help plan appropriately for each child.
Parental involvement is important for the success of every child in the school system. A child in the immersion program needs parents that are involved in the school, communicate with the teachers, show interest in the language of instruction, and continue to read and develop English language skills in the areas taught in Spanish.