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Another Sacramento School Gives "Immersion Learning" a Try

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, September 19, 2011

The idea is: students who speak little English learn more in their native tongue.  The question is, how much English should be taught?

In the Kindergarten immersion class at Susan B Anthony Elementary School, 90 percent of the coursework is in Hmong.  The English content will increase by 10 percent every year.  Today, First grade teacher Ia Lee Her's class is working on the alphabet.

Lee Her says the plan calls for the Hmong and English lessons to be taught at separate times.  She is already diverging from the plan

LEE HER: "I want them to comprehend a little bit, so that's why it was doing it Hmong…explaining in Hmong, yet having them tell me the letter in English."

Susan B Anthony offers private tutoring and a full-time aid.  Every student in the class is Hmong.

Over at Edward Kemble Elementary, Spanish Immersion has been offered for 20 years.  The kids in those classes are mostly Hispanic, but include some white and black students.  

Half of their instruction is in English. Half is in Spanish.  

Nancy Lopez says the diversity of her kindergarten class is helping the children overcome  typical growing pains.

LOPEZ: The English speakers …they're a little overwhelmed.  I do get a couple that are…not afraid, but are a little uncomfortable, but then they meet other kids that do speak English with them and help them.  And so we pair them up."

In California standardized tests, Edward Kemble immersion students outperform their schoolmates in math in all grades by a wide margin  and in English in all grades except sixth..  Susan B. Anthony hopes to at least match those numbers, but it will take five years for the first crop of students to reach sixth grade and find out how far they've come.  


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