If you’re new to language immersion, you likely have a few questions, curiosities, or even fears about the process. After 20 years in the language learning business, we’ve got you covered with the answers you need to know about the wonderful journey you and your child are about to begin.
¿Qué?/What? What Exactly is Spanish Immersion?
It’s not so mysterious! Immersion simply means being surrounded by a language so it can be acquired naturally. This is the same way your child learned his or her first language. We know that kids have an innate ability to learn a language by hearing it spoken to them or around them, so at SSH we surround them in Spanish all day! As they interact through school activities and social experiences, communication is spontaneous and children learn Spanish naturally.
¿Cómo?/ How? How Does the Immersion Process Work?
Just like other preschools, we prepare students socially and academically so they’ll have a strong foundation for future learning. The unique and exciting part is that SSH instruction and learning materials are almost entirely in Spanish!
Our teachers are native-Spanish speakers from around the world who also speak English. We start the school year speaking both languages so children understand class expectations and get to know their teachers. After this intro, we transition to Spanish-only in a process that’s easy and fun!
Preschool classes have a Spanish-only focus every day (with the addition of an English period for three- and four-year-olds). When our students reach Kindergarten they’re fully immersed in Spanish three days a week and in English two days a week.
At every age level, from two through Kindergarten, we use weekly and monthly themes to help children explore the world around them. Traditional Latin music and dance add spice to the learning process, as cultural concepts are woven into the curriculum.
Speaking of the SSH curriculum… we’re very proud of it! It was developed just for us by a team of Texas-certified educators and uses a very hands-on approach to learning. Lesson plans focus on literacy, pre-math and science, gross and fine motor coordination, creativity and expression, socialization skills, and more! We incorporate the Handwriting Without Tears® program into our curriculum to develop fine motor skills and proper handwriting techniques, and we follow the Love and Logic® principles of positive discipline.
How do you avoid confusion?
Since most SSH families don’t speak Spanish at home, it’s natural for parents to wonder if their children will be confused. Have no fear! To help children feel comfortable and confident, our teachers at all stages “act out” a lot of what they say and use visual materials as cues. For new students in the transition stage, if a teacher doubts that they understand something, she’ll briefly explain in English and then continue in Spanish. You’ll be surprised at how quickly they understand!
How can parents help at home?
Whether you speak Spanish or not, you can stay in the loop by following our weekly and monthly themes. Ask your child (in English or Spanish) for more info about the themes and vocabulary. They’re usually happy to teach their parents, especially the songs they’ve been singing! (You’ll find links to the songs in our monthly newsletter.) With a little encouragement, they may also be eager to use their new language when eating out, at the store, or when making new friends who are Spanish speakers. Urge them to converse when opportunities arise! Our Resources page has more ideas.
¿Cuándo?/When? When is the Best Time to Start Learning a Second Language?
The earlier children start learning languages, the easier it is! Preschoolers’ brains are full of potential because they’re highly receptive to learning experiences. Intense neural activity happens at this stage of development. It opens the brain to new sounds and patterns, allowing children to easily mimic sounds and pronunciation.
Another reason younger kids learn so easily is that they’re not afraid to make mistakes! Being less inhibited than adolescents or adults often are, they’re more likely to try out and use a foreign language.
¿Por qué?/Why? Why Should My Child Try Spanish Immersion?
There are so many benefits to learning a second language!
- Cognitive Benefits – Kids who learn multiple languages tend to have advantages over those who speak only one. The attention and thinking processes used in learning languages have positive effects on overall cognitive development. This improves skills like creativity, memory, focus, problem-solving, flexible thinking, and the ability to multitask.
- Physiological Benefits – Research shows that being bilingual from an early age physically changes the brain’s structure and increases brain activity. Learning foreign languages has been shown to reduce age-related cognitive loss as people age, and may even delay the onset of dementia.
- Academic Benefits – Students who learn foreign languages tend to do better on verbal and nonverbal intelligence tests, like the ACT and SAT. This can certainly pay off when it comes time to apply for colleges and scholarships!
- Social and Career Opportunities – Being bilingual opens doors to communication with more people, in more places! As communities around the world become more and more interdependent, languages improve our ability to interact. This gives an awesome advantage in the workplace.
Language Immersion Works!
We’ve had the pleasure of sharing in the Spanish immersion experience of thousands of children over the past 20 years. We’ve seen them grow at SSH and flourish in elementary school and beyond. When former students share stories about the opportunities Spanish has given them, it fills our hearts with pride and joy. We have no doubt that Spanish immersion works and we’re excited about embarking on this journey with our newest students! For even more information about our programs, visit