Language Immersion Program FAQ
What are the languages of the district’s language immersion programs?
German, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish
Which are the language immersion program schools?
Rilke Schule Charter School (German)
Sand Lake Elementary School (Japanese)
Turnagain Elementary School (Russian)
Chugiak Elementary and Government Hill Schools (Spanish) - See also the Dual Language Immersion FAQ by Government Hill teacher, Kim Amaya
How do I enroll my child in a language immersion program?
Entry to the immersion programs is by district lottery in March and August. Lottery application forms are on the district Web site and at the schools. Contact schools for parent orientations and school visitation dates.
Do the immersion programs continue after elementary school?
Yes! The ASD Language Immersion Programs are K-12. Each elementary immersion school has identified feeder middle and high schools. Read through the Immersion Program Completion Cord fact sheet (PDF) for details.
Why should my child learn a second language in elementary school?
Studies have shown, and experience has supported, that children who learn a language before the onset of adolescence are much more likely to have native-like pronunciation. A number of experts attribute this proficiency to physiological changes that occur in the maturing brain as a child enters puberty. Of course, as with any subject, the more years a child can devote to learning a language, the more competent he or she will become. In any case, introducing children to alternative ways of expressing themselves and to different cultures generally broadens their outlook and gives them the opportunity to communicate with many more people - German, Latin, Japanese, Russian and Spanish.
Will learning a second language interfere with my child's English ability?
In most cases, learning another language enhances a child's English ability. Children can learn much about English by learning the structure of other languages. Common vocabulary also helps children learn the meaning of new words in English. Experimental studies have shown that no long-term delay in native English language development occurs in children participating in second language classes, even in full immersion programs.
In fact, children enrolled in foreign language programs score statistically higher on standardized tests conducted in English. A number of reports have demonstrated that children who have learned a second language earn higher SAT scores, particularly on the verbal section of the test. One study showed that by the fifth year of an immersion program, students outperformed all comparison groups and remained high academic achievers throughout their schooling.
If my child is enrolled in a language program at school, what can I do to help?
Most importantly, encourage your child's interest in the language and in other cultures. Show him or her that you value the ability to speak a second language. Attend cultural events that feature music, dance, or food from the country or countries where the language is spoken. If possible, provide some books, videos, or other materials in the second language. If you are familiar with the language yourself, read to your child. Summer programs offering international exchange are suitable or older children and offer valuable opportunities to speak a second language and explore a different culture firsthand. Children normally live with a host family, which provides them with a safe and sheltered environment where they can practice their language skills.
Where can I find out more information about immersion programs?
Informative Web sites are the Center for Applied Linguistics and the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition - CARLA.
Our family is moving out of state and we would like our child to continue in an immersion program. How do we find a similar program?
To find other language immersion programs in the U.S., search the Center for Applied Linguistics’ databases for:
Are there other Japanese immersion programs in the United States?
The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles has a list of Japanese immersion programs in the United States »