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Immersion School Decision

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We have an opportunity to put our daughter into an immersion school for the upcoming school year. She would be entering 3rd grade. So far she has studied the language at home through various resources, but is not fluent. I was told by the school that we should be cautious with the decision to put her in at this point because the other children are all fluent by third grade and only 1 hour of the school day is taught in English.


Any thoughts on how difficult a transition this would be? We do have the opportunity to have her tutored and go to an immersion day camp for two weeks this summer. I am not sure if it would be enough though. My other thought is that if we can just get her through the first 6 months of a challenging environment, that the long-term educational payoff would be great (the school goes through 8th grade). This is such a hard decision for us. She has been homeschooled since K and I don't want her first school experience to be a bad one.


Any advice/thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

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All I can tell you, is that when I lived in Europe, it seemed like people were always moving from country to country and that the kids were just plopped down into whatever school happened to be there. All the ones I knew seemed to have coped just fine, although there was one family where the youngest child couldn't handle the multiple languages and always had to be spoken to in one language, even when everybody else in the family used a different language at home. His older sister, my schoolmate, told me that the doctor had said that a certain percentage of kids (it was small) just can't handle multiple languages.

Given that your child can already speak some, it doesn't sound like that could be an issue.


FWIW, I entered school in Belgium at age 16, after 3 years of high school French in the states, and by 3/4 into the school year, I was pretty much fluent and understood everything that was going on (although my written grammar was never so great, and I always need proof reading for papers I wrote). So an 8yo shouldn't have a problem at all.


I say go for it! What a wonderful experience for her. Multi lingualism will be a real advantage.

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My sons are in an immersion program and they don't even allow kids in after 1st grade because by then the kids are already pretty fluent. but I believe with excess help (i.e. A tutor) I think it could work. I think it world be a worthwhile experience if you're willing to give her some assistance to get caught up.

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Kids who move to a foreign country can learn the local language very easily if they are immersed in school, and if the family is supportive. The kids can enter with barely a word and become reasonably fluent in the span of a few months. In that scenario, kids are not even in the class with other learners of the language, but with native speakers who are already proficient, and who are taught AS native speakers, not as second language students.

For this, it is not necessary that the family speaks the language at all, but merely that the family is positive about the language and encourages the student (absence of this support and disdain for the environmental language for example leads to second generation immigrant kids with poor language skills).


So, even if you are not proficient, your daughter can easily become.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks so much for the replies and advice. It is such a difficult decision. Some family members have told me that if I decide to send her that she will end up hating school and me and be bullied by other students for not speaking German as fluently. :tongue_smilie: The director of the school also called to warn me about how difficult the transition will be and that they don't really recommend a child this old entering the school. After talking with her about the support that we would provide from home she did keep her on the student list, but seemed to do so tentatively. I wish that school choice was easy. This is sooo hard. It does help me though to think that our kids would be forced to adapt if we were to decide to move to a non-English speaking country tomorrow. I guess this would not be much different. I will have to continue to mull this over. Thanks again for the advice.

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