Bilingual Program – Dual Immersion
Del Mar Academy offers an innovative, research-based bilingual program in Spanish and English through grade 3 and a bilingual program where the language of instruction varies by subject area from grades 4 through 12. Our goal at Del Mar Academy is to help our students become bilingual and bi-literate by meeting their individual language learning needs. We realize that there are various levels of “bilingualism” but we are confident that with the support from home, time, and an interest from the child, it is possible to create a plan that will enable a child to achieve academic success in his or her second language equal to that of his or her native language.
To aid our efforts, we use a dual-language (Spanish and English) immersion approach through grade 3: It is an approach that is constantly reviewed and evaluated by the faculty to meet the language needs of our growing student population. Our dual-approach stresses literacy and content.
At the pre-primary levels of Toddler and Casa, children begin to develop their English and Spanish oral language skills via singing, read alouds, sight reading and vocabulary building; however, our teachers support the child’s literacy development (learning how to read and write) in his or her native language first. This decision stems from numerous research studies that prove that transfer to a second language is easier if the child has a strong foundation in his or her first language. If the child is bilingual already or is not fluent in either Spanish or English, the teacher will meet with the parent(s) to decide what language should be used first to build the child’s literacy skills. Although there are exceptions, we have found the research to be true: transferring strong literacy skills over to another language is easier than learning basic literacy skills in both languages at the same time.
In grades 1 through 3, we strive for 50-50 dual immersion in English and Spanish. In grades 4-12 the language will be according to the instruction. One exception is that if a student is below grade level in their first language or the stronger of the two languages if neither English or Spanish is your child’s mother tongue. In that case, literacy instruction (reading and writing) will be conducted only in the child’s first or stronger language until your child has met or exceeded grade-level expectations. Similar to the pre-primary levels, the teacher works with the child’s parents to create an appropriate language-learning plan based on the child’s needs.
We understand that, in some cases and especially at younger ages, children will be entering Del Mar Academy with little to no background in Spanish or English. Our teachers have training and experience in instructional strategies for language acquisition. In other words, they are good at helping students understand and access academic material in a new language by adjusting the learning objectives for the individual child and providing the needed support, while maintaining the challenge needed for continuing growth. One of the strengths of the Montessori philosophy is the ability to customize lessons for each child’s needs.
Students entering Del Mar Academy in upper Primary (grades 4, 5, 6 ), Lower Secondary (grades 7, 8, 9), and high school (grades 10-12) with beginning proficiency in Spanish or English will be required to participate in Spanish as a Second or English Language classes according to their levels. These group classes will be offered at school with a qualified instructor at an additional cost to the parents of participating children. The objective of the classes is to provide students with language instruction that will help them advance more quickly to intermediate proficiency.
Language proficiency may also be considered as a factor in admissions decisions, per our Admissions Policy.