Spanish Immersion from the Viewpoint of our Students

What Our Kids Had to Say

We recently interviewed a few of our Spanish Immersion students to get some feedback on what the immersion experience has been like for them.  Students usually start the program in Kindergarten but can join as late as midway through 1st grade.  By fifth grade, they can conversationally bounce back and forth between English and Spanish with ease.  It is really amazing to experience their mastery of the language!

We’d like to share our conversation with a couple of fifth grade Spanish Immersion students, Abby and Maria.

How did your Spanish Immersion experience start?

Abby – At the beginning, I didn’t know Spanish at all and the teacher spoke Spanish.  She wouldn’t tell you how to say each word but instead just talked to us all the time and we just somehow started understanding her.
Maria –  I didn’t start Spanish Immersion till 1st grade while the other kids had started in Kindergarten or even earlier.  The teachers helped me a lot.

What’s the most challenging part of Spanish Immersion?

Abby – The silent ‘h’ is tricky because you have to figure out if it’s in a word or not.  And learning the accent took some time – if you speak Spanish words in an English accent they don’t sound right.
Maria – But learning how to spell Spanish words is much easier than English.   In English there are many more tricks you need to learn. In Spanish, you can usually sound it out.

What advice would you have for students new to Spanish Immersion?

Maria – Keep trying!  Sometimes you feel like you can’t do it because you don’t understand, but it gets easier.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  I asked a lot and the teachers helped me.
Abby – Keep an open mind.  When I first started I came in the classroom and the teacher only spoke Spanish.  I would sit there and feel a little lost, but it got easier pretty quickly.

Tell me about a time that you were able to use Spanish outside of the classroom.

Abby – We’ve traveled to Florida and were in a situation where we needed help and the people there only spoke Spanish.  I was able to translate between my parents and the staff.  And here at home I will hear people speaking Spanish in a store and sometimes go up to kids my age and speak to them in Spanish.  Every time I do they will be surprised and say something like ‘You speak Spanish? – I do too!’ That’s really fun.
Maria – (Laughing) I sometimes eavesdrop on people in stores but then I can help them sometimes too.

What would you tell parents who are thinking about Spanish Immersion for their child?

Abby – It’s great – they should do it.  I loved that we did lots of songs and games when we learned Spanish that helped us.  And by learning both Spanish to English I’ve learned a lot of root words.  It makes you smarter.  It will also help me get better jobs because I can speak in 2 languages.
Maria – I want to be a flight attendant someday and travel the world and this will make me more able to get this job.

Further Thoughts from the Parents

Maria’s mom gave us some feedback on the Immersion experience at MCS as well.

“It was a rough go for the first few months, but she has grown to love it.  I’m amazed at how she thinks in Spanish. She doesn’t translate, she knows and understands.  Although her Spanish spelling and grammar are almost perfect, her English spelling is a little behind.

We are excited for the opportunities this opens for her. She is already talking about being a translator, teacher or flight attendant someday so she can keep using her Spanish.

I would not say this program is for everyone. I think a family has to be committed to it and see the big picture. I do think it is an amazing program and has opened up something for Maria none of us had, or could even imagine. I often think about kids all over the world learning English and their native language and I love that my child will also be bilingual.  She helps her siblings with their homework regularly. She has recited the Bible in Spanish in church.
My older kids wish they had the opportunity – they are quite jealous of her ability.”