I've had three through immersion school and another soon to start. My oldest was in a program with the immersion percentages you describe except the program dropped to 50% for 3rd & 4th and goes back to 90% for 5th and 6th. She was right around the same level as your daughter when she started. Obviously it's all very individual, but I thought I'd respond and wish you the very best of luck in your exciting journey.
1. The first week was harder emotionally on my perfectionist than I expected. She was very excited to start school, but was quite stressed not understanding anything. When I brought her home, she actually cried as she described her confusion. The worst part was when they gave her a corn dog and she didn't know why (all the kids eat at school the first day even if they bring food so they learn how to do it). Lol. She was hardly alone. So many little people who had tears that week! Now the programs send a letter to the parents asking them to prepare their kids emotionally for the experience and to give it at least a few weeks before pulling kids out (some would panic on day one). With a little forwarning and discussion, the rest of my kids have been spared this.
2. We've been involved in 4 different programs and they are all so very different. The programs where at least half the kids are already bilingual or speak the target language, where the teachers were educated native speakers and speak no English, and where the children can only speak Spanish unless asking "Como se dice ---- en Español?" were much more successful. My daughter who was in 100% in kindergarten still shows the benefits of that high percentage at the start years later.
3. You will get to watch with fascination as your child's accent forms. Each year, my children had a totally different accent- eventually changing and matching their teacher for that year. At the end of elementary school, they seem to settle into their own and it changes less and less. I'd expect it to be mostly set by 14. I have loved watching this over the years.
4. Research shows that, at these percentages, immersion students should, on average, test below their english-only peers on English skills until third grade. they should start to even out by about third and surpass their peers by middle school. We saw a curve along these lines. Because our daughter was already ahead like yours, she didn't really lose much ground, but plateaud a bit compared to where I think she would have otherwise been while she built her Spanish vocabulary and reading skills. Her skills all across the board in English grew more slowly for the next few years, but grew all the same, and she was never below average in English even with almost no instruction. Book examples are all I can come up with. She read Harry Potter 1-4 at 7, loved the Warriors books at 8, finished Harry Potter and warriors books at 9 and launched into appropriate young adult and classic books thereafter. I think the last test put her near the end of high school in English reading and middle school (Percy Jackson books) in Spanish.
Sometimes she would say phrases in English picked up from Spanish, which got a few chuckles here and there. No one ever translated these phrases for her. There were several, and I wish I could remember them all. The only one I remember offhand was that she would often say times as, "it's 4 o'clock on the dot." She seemed to sort out common phrases and cliches by 3rd or 4th, but even now one will come across now and then. She got annoyed with spelling in English, which is, according to her, much harder. But she kept reading, and once she really fell in love with more advanced books, I saw her start to take off again.
I wish I hadn't stressed or worried as much k-3 wondering if I was crippling her English skills for life, because, even though her reading was great, her English spelling was not good and her writing and grammar wasnt the greatest either. She had been so far ahead and I was worried she was just stalling out for a while there. I was wrong. By 5th grade she was back up to the 99%tile in pretty much all areas except spelling, which was a little lower. I still feel like, at 11, she hasn't quite reached where she would have been without immersion, but is making rapid progress closing that gap in the near future. Best advice from our experience? Give them a little English work leeway for the first little while to give Spanish a little focus time, expect a slight drop/plateau for a few years and don't stress too much about it, and read read read in both languages. Your child sounds talented and she'll do great.
My second daughter was above average by about a grade when she started, but her program was 50% starting in 1st and stayed at that percentage. Her English didn't plateau asthat but her Spanish didn't grow as much either. By 4th grade, I feel like she'll be where she otherwise would have been by middle school but don't feel she has gotten the same benefit from the program.
5. Skills learned in one language are surprisingly transferable. At least, I was surprised.
6. Even if they don't speak, they are picking things up, but the sooner you get them comfortable speaking even if they aren't sure they are right, the better. So hard to break that shyness later.
7. They seem to grow in sudden spurts rather than a steady increase.
8. Having a child complain that their sibling has stolen a toy -in their sleep- in another language- is somehow twice as funny as it would be in English.
Good luck and HTH. Sorry for typos, tiny little phone screen.
Edited by iwantsprinkles, 13 July 2017 - 11:58 PM.