Spanish Immersion

kids in classWhat is Spanish Immersion?

Spanish Immersion is an opportunity for elementary students to complete the South Kitsap School District curriculum in a nontraditional and exciting way by immersing them in the Spanish language and culture. Students in the program become proficient in both Spanish and English, while learning the same curriculum as the students who are not in the program.

What grades offer Spanish Immersion?

Next year (2018-2019) the South Kitsap School District‘s magnet Spanish Immersion Program will be enrolling students in its first grade classroom at Burley Glenwood Elementary School. Students who were enrolled in the Spanish Immersion first grade classroom in 2014-15 will be enrolled in the fifth grade Spanish Immersion classroom. A Spanish Immersion classroom has been added each year so that by the time the first graders leave Burley Glenwood, they will have had 5 years of Spanish Immersion. They will be academically proficient in English with a Spanish proficiency level ready to enter the junior high Spanish Immersion Program.

How does this classroom differ from other first grade classrooms?

Students in the Spanish Immersion first grade classroom are taught the standard South Kitsap School District curriculum (reading, writing, math, science, social studies and health) in Spanish. Time is spent each day in English oral language development, but content is learned in Spanish.  In second grade, English literacy is added back into the curriculum, while continuing with Spanish reading and writing as well.  In third and fourth grades math is taught in English.  In fourth and fifth grades there is a 50/50 model of English/Spanish. In order to help students achieve Spanish proficiency levels approximating English speaking levels, we spend more time in Spanish at the beginning of the program, gradually adding more and more English.  Ideas learned in Spanish transfer to English and will not need to be learned twice.

The classroom teacher has native or near-native ability in the Spanish language, strong instructional skills and has been chosen for his or her commitment to the goals of the program. The teacher speaks Spanish to the students, while making sure they understand instructions and receive answers to their questions.

What if no one at home speaks Spanish?

Report cards, notices and newsletters are in English. Responsibility for Spanish instruction is the school's. Spanish homework assignments are not translated into English. However, it is not expected that parents will assist in Spanish homework assignments. The role of the parent is to support their child's learning and to continue to provide support in their child's English language development by reading to and with their child in English and enriching their development, understanding and recognition of English vocabulary.

How will Spanish Immersion affect my child’s English skills?

Students who start first grade will continue to read in English at home and independently. Students who have struggled with the reading process will have the opportunity to work on basic reading skills and decoding in Spanish, which is simpler and much more transparent than English.  Decoding skills developed in Spanish will transfer to English reading. To  ensure that the child’s English language continues to thrive, families should focus their attention on the continued development of their child’s English vocabulary through reading with and to their child in English and providing opportunities for their child to increase their recognition and understanding of English vocabulary.

Experiences in other districts that have had full language immersion programs at the elementary level and that do not have English instruction until the third grade found that while their language immersion students were behind their English-only peers in English and writing ability, by 4th grade their English skills are equal to or better than their peers.

Are students in the Spanish Immersion program screened for admission?

Children are not screened or pre-selected on the basis of IQ or other variables. However, parents should seriously consider the appropriate-ness of this program for their child. We suggest that parents who are unsure consult with the school counselor or principal before making their decision.

Why choose the Spanish Immersion Program for my first grader?

Studies have found that learning a second language at an early age has many benefits:
  • There is a positive effect on brain development and intellectual growth.
  • Students gain flexibility in thinking, greater sensitivity to language, and a better ear for listening.
  • It opens the door to other cultures and helps children understand and a better ear for listening. It opens the door to other cultures and helps children understand and appreciate people from other countries.
  • Students acquire Spanish language proficiency that sets them up to achieve higher language levels in high school and beyond.
  • Spanish Immersion produces successful learners who perform well academically.
  • Students have increased job opportunities in many careers where knowledge of another language is an asset.

What should parents think about when considering this program?

Enrolling your child in this program should be considered as a commitment at least through grade 5. Parents must also consider that this is a partnership where they have the responsibility of enriching their child’s English vocabulary.

Since this is a magnet program, parents must provide transportation if they live outside of the Burley-Glenwood service area.

Application Information

The parents of any student scheduled to enter first grade in September, 2018 and who are interested in enrolling their child in the first grade Spanish Immersion class at Burley-Glenwood may complete a "First Grade Spanish Immersion Class" form and submit an application for the class.

What should parents think about when considering this program?

Enrolling your child in this program should be considered as a commitment at least through grade 5. Parents must also consider that this is a partnership where they have the responsibility of enriching their child’s English vocabulary.

Since this is a magnet program, parents must provide transportation if they live outside of the Burley-Glenwood service area.

How do I enroll my child in the first grade Spanish Immersion classroom?

Enrollment begins now for the 2018-19 school year. There are 23 spaces available in the first grade Spanish Immersion class at Burley Glenwood. If the number of applicants exceeds the number of spaces available, a lottery is conducted to determine admission. Priority is given to those who live in the South Kitsap School District. Those living outside of the South Kitsap School District will need to complete an “Out of District” enrollment request.

Students whose applications are not drawn during the lottery process will be placed on a waiting list. If space becomes available, a lottery process will be used to identify the student from the waiting list who will fill the vacancy and the parents of the student will be notified.

Applications may be obtained at Burley-Glenwood, the South Kitsap School District Office or online at www.skschools.org.


Examples of Spanish Immersion classrooms at work can be seen in this video taken from the Minnetonka Public Schools in Minnesota.