Frequently Asked Questions:
How are students chosen to participate in the Dual Language program at Belvoir?
Rising Kindergarten students who live within the Belvoir Attendance Zone will be placed in the Dual Language program upon receipt of their application prior to the application deadline on May 29, 2015. We can accommodate up to 48 total students in the program. Parents who live outside the Belvoir Attendance Zone must make a special request to the Pitt County Board of Education to obtain permission to attend the Belvoir Dual Language program. If there is more interest than space, a lottery will be conducted to determine placement in the program.
What is meant by the term 50/50 Dual Language?
These programs group native speakers of English with native speakers of the target language. The mix is approximately 50% of each group (English and Spanish native languages) and both become bilingual, bi-literate and bicultural. Instruction is provided both in English and in Spanish on alternate days. There are a variety of models, and percentages like 90/10 and 50/50 are used to refer to how much of the instruction at different grade levels is conducted in the target language versus how much is given in English. The model we will use at Belvoir Elementary is a 50/50 model so that equal instruction is provided in both English and Spanish.
Will students in the Dual Language program participate in “Encore” classes?
Yes. They will go to physical education, music,art, media, guidance, and computer classes as often and on the same rotating basis as students in traditional kindergarten classes.
Can Dual Language students qualify for and receive services from The Exceptional Children’s Department, Speech teachers and Academically Gifted teachers?
Yes. All of these services are available to students in the dual language program and the process for qualifying for these services is the same as it is for students in traditional classes. These services would be provided in English.
Is a dual language program only appropriate for really high performing students?
No. Research shows that dual language education is effective for a wide variety of learners, including academically/intellectually gifted students, non-native English speakers,students with many special education needs and socio-economic challenges.
Will Dual Language students receive ESL (English as a Second Language) services?
Yes. The dual language program provides the ESL services for students.
Is Kindergarten the right time to begin learning another language?
Absolutely! Starting school is a transition, especially for those who have not had pre-school experiences already. Learning to go to school, to understand school procedures and routines, is a transition that happen in any language. The high use of props, puppets, and gestures at this early age benefits language learning. When you watch your five year old responding to her Kindergarten teacher’s instructions and conversing with her classmates in another language you will understand the possibilities and see that learning in another language is a natural process.
What if my child doesn’t respond well or doesn’t like it?
Like any kindergarten child, your child will be tired at the end of the school day. It’s tough work to play hard and stick to all those school rules. If you are worried your child is not enjoying school or thriving in the dual language environment, talk to your teacher and principal. Most kids respond well to joining a dual language program--- they are made to feel secure right from the start and, after a few days,they do not focus on the fact that the teacher is not speaking English.
Will my child be able to speak English in class until she learns enough vocabulary to communicate?
In kindergarten you will often hear children speaking or responding to teachers in English. However, their teachers will be speaking only in the target language to them, using a lot of gestures and props to convey the messages. Their teachers will encourage new language learners to respond in Spanish by giving them the needed vocabulary to mimic. Good immersion teachers will not revert to English, unless safety or emergency necessitates. By the middle of first grade, students will be able to function entirely with NO ENGLISH in the immersion classroom. Students will quickly realize an easy way out if they are able to speak any English (except in emergencies) with their teacher. Don’t be surprised if your child thinks her teacher does not know any English!
I don’t speak another language so I won’t be able to help my child at home.
The most important thing you can do at home is read to your child in English. Read and ask questions. Reading in any language supports the acquisition of reading skills such as fluency, vocabulary building, comprehension, etc. Your child’s homework should support what he has learned in class. Students should be able to tackle the assignment on their own. Parents will be able to identify what skill is being addressed and support your child’s learning in the skill, even if you can only help in English. Homework should not be a struggle! If it is,please talk with your child’s teacher. The good news: You don’t have to know the language to support your child at home.
Will my child take state mandated assessments, like the EOG, in Spanish?
No, all state mandated assessments, like the EOGs, will be taken in English.
What else can I do to help?
There is a lot you can do. Be a strong parent advocate. Join the dual language parent group – to support each other, educate each other, share successes and challenges and ideas to make the program outstanding. Recruit for your school. Spread the word. Tell all your friends what you know about the program. Post it on your Facebook wall. It will be important for the health of the program to maintain healthy numbers in the dual language classrooms. We should have a healthy wait-list at all times so that any vacancies are immediately filled. Fundraise for a bilingual library. We can never have enough Spanish books. Host a holiday book drive. Purchase books for the classroom or school library and encourage other parents to do the same.
Also,check in with your teacher regarding volunteer activities in both the English world and the Spanish world. It is important that volunteers maintain the “no English in the immersion classroom” rule to prevent inconsistent practices and to build the children’s confidence that they can learn to understand in the immersion language. Here are some ideas for volunteers who do not speak the immersion language:
● Volunteer to help in the classroom and activities using only non-verbal communication.
● Complete tasks outside of the classroom, such as materials preparation, bulletin board preparation, newsletter formatting, etc.