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Studying a content subject in the Weaker Language?

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If your kids study a content subject in their weaker language, what sort of extra support do they require?

I'm thinking of trying science OR social studies in Spanish for 6th grade and am wondering what that would entail.


Do your students require extra support in their weaker language when studying content or am I dreaming up issues that (probably) won't  even occur in real life?



I'm leaning towards science, because we have some English based background knowledge for "school science" already to build on and because I'm thinking that it'd be easier to be spontaneous with in real life too, but that's just hypothetical.


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We do not have content subjects as part of our official school curriculum: one might say we "unschool" these areas (both DH and I have decent math and science backgrounds so our decision to be more relaxed in this area was not due to lack of interest/ability on our part), plus my kids are younger so YMMV.  That said, from the beginning most of the content oriented resources I kept physically in the home were in the minority language.  This included all the childrens' audiobooks.  This has worked out really well for our family.  I am happy with the amount of content knowledge the two school age girls have and I find that they are far more likely to ask for the equivalent information from minority language to majority than vice versa, which in turn has led to a far closer approximation of balanced bilingualism than I think we'd otherwise have.  Leaving it open to the child's interest instead of following some sort of plan has also meant that the kids read/listen far more in the minority language because their curiosity overcomes their natural partiality towards the majority language.  However, this has also involved far more expense than we'd otherwise have because of importing books.

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We didn't get to do much of this, but I had just started having dd do maths review worksheets in her non-native language. That was much more basic than you are talking about, but It was cool.

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I think once the student gets to a high enough level, they can study a content subject in their second language the same as with their native tongue. Keep in mind that the subject specific vocabulary that the student learns will be in that language. When they later student the subject in the native tongue, they will have to learn the vocabulary in that language. People do this all the time, though.


In the higher levels of education (e.g. university and college), students often make the choice of which language they prefer to take specific courses in. Sometimes there are benefits to taking courses in English, for example, rather than French. Sometimes there are financial reasons to take a certain number of courses in French. I'm just using a couple examples from Canada, where French-language students can get financial support taking courses in French. Other parts of the world may have different situations.

Edited by wintermom
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