I’m pretty clueless on what to expect with the Spanish language acquisition progress in an immersion school. Learning a second language takes time. But how do you grade a student on language when they just started exposure to it? Because it’s not fair to grade a student an “F” because they’re not proficient or worse – don’t know how to read, write, or speak, our school tracks progress for continuous improvement.
So this is a trimester progress report. I like this. I thought it would be fun to report to you our (his) progress. This is another reason why I started this blog. No where could I find a typical experience of immersion school – from the emotional adjustment to educational progress.
There are a few categories related to Spanish including, “lectura nivel” (reading level), “expresión escrita” (written expression), and “expresión oral” (verbal expression). I’ll keep the summary limited to Spanish language arts.
Our little English reader is apparently a fairly good beginning Spanish reader. Who knew?! Can you feel my heart swelling with pride while you read this? Apparently he can demonstrate understanding of some of the text he is reading, he can present supporting details of what he has read, and he can read aloud and, though making some mistakes, can be understood.
His English reading comprehension scores were pretty strong, and as I’ve mentioned before, this skill translates to Spanish (or any other language). They are building their vocabulary mostly by what they are hearing, speaking, and reading during the day. The kids digest this like they do their native language. The more his comprehension increases in either language, it increases for all.
The kids are learning basic writing structures, including sentences. At 11 weeks into school, he can write some sentences, mostly understandable. He is using vocabulary that is almost always accurate. And he’s got an emerging use of basic language structure. For students that have this concept down in their native language (letters make words, words make sentences), I’d think this is fairly typical. Our boy can put sentences together in English, I can imagine it makes sense to him that the same concepts ring true for Spanish.
It’s good for me to read this part of his progress report. Every student progresses differently, particularly in verbal proficiency. I am fairly introverted by nature, and somewhat of a perfectionist. I hate making mistakes! Second language acquisition is going to be hard for me because of this. I see similar qualities in my son. He’s got to step out of his comfort zone and make mistakes. Ha!
He’s rarely expressing clear ideas in Spanish. He will engage and volunteer to try (a good sign), but shows with some difficulty his ideas. And sometimes he’ll speak in Spanish without being reminded that he should be.
What I liked about my conversation with his teacher was the optimism of his attitude. She said he does volunteer when the class is asked a question, and he participates. He repeats verbally. He wants to and is eager to learn. The shock value has worn off, and school in Spanish is normal to him.
How long will it take him to speak more comfortably? Many months and longer. We understood this going into the program it could be months or a year or longer. We have seen and continue to see progress, particularly with singing, in his willingness to use Spanish verbally. As his peers begin to speak more Spanish in class, he will follow suit.
So there it is – our trimester progress report. Some reading, some writing, very little speaking. I’m excited, intrigued, and mostly proud of him and his great attitude and hard work. Excelente, Devlin!