Spanish Must Be The Language To Learn Because Spanish-Language Immersion Schools More Popular Than Ever


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Andrew Howell, a restaurant consultant in Washington D.C., wishes he would have grown up fully fluent in another language.

“I did not have that opportunity when I was a kid, and I think that learning more languages will open more possibilities for them,” he said, speaking of his young daughters Annabelle and Chiarra, who attend LAMB PCS, a Latin American Montessori bilingual public charter school in Washington, D.C.

Howell and his wife Lisette are part of a growing number of families enrolling their children in immersion schools, where half to all the curriculum is taught in a language other than English. There are over 1,000 language immersion schools in the country, according to Julie Sugarman, a researcher at the Center for Applied Linguistics, and the schools are growing in popularity.

Though one might think it’s Latino families who are mostly sending their children to Spanish immersion schools, this is not the case.

“We’ve found that there is a higher demand from non-Spanish speaking families,” said Dahlia Aguilar, principal of Mundo Verde, an environment-focused Spanish-language immersion school in Washington D.C.

“Most commonly, the reason is that those families want to make sure their kids get that exposure to the diversity that comes with language immersion. We have over 400 students and the waiting list is 500,” Aguilar said.

 Those who tout immersion schools say fluency in another language gives students the benefit to compete in the global marketplace. Educators like Aguilar say immersion students perform as well or better than non-immersion students on standardized tests in English, have longer attention spans and are better at problem solving. Add that immersion students have a greater understanding and positive attitudes toward other cultures, and it’s not a surprise that the educational approach is growing in popularity.
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