ELEMENTARY PROGRAM K-4
The Denver Language School (DLS) promotes academic excellence through language immersion education.
Language immersion is the process of teaching a second language in which students are surrounded by or immersed in the language. Children immersed in a second language from a young age, research shows, acquire reading, writing, and speaking proficiency in that language as if it were their native tongue. Because the brains of children are still developing, younger children are more able to accept a second language as if it were their first – allowing them to think in the language rather than translating it. Moreover, brain development is enhanced because students participating in an immersion program utilize greater mental capacities when learning subject content in a second language.
The benefits of the language immersion model extend far beyond mere acquisition of the second language. Students learning a second language from a young age perform better academically than their non-language learning peers, exhibit greater cultural appreciation, and are able to learn additional languages with greater ease. Language immersion public schools have existed for more than 30 years in the U.S. Numerous studies have found that students in immersion programs generally perform better than their peers on standardized tests. Every child will leave the program with the tangible skill of proficiency in a second language.
Our elementary program begins with kindergarten and extends to grade four. Middle school begins in 5th grade. Successful immersion programs begin in the earliest grades and continue through the middle school years to ensure retention and superiority of the second language.
Key Components of the DLS Elementary Curriculum
- The target language (Spanish or Mandarin) is the language of instruction for all classroom instruction (except for specials) in kindergarten, first, and second grade.
- The curriculum is aligned with the Colorado State Standards and the Common Core National Standards scope and sequence.
- Specials (music, physical education, art, and technology) and special services are provided in English. Specials are on a one week rotation. For example, first week the students have P.E; the second week they have art, etc.
- Direct daily reading and writing instruction in English begins in the third grade (unless a child is identified as an ELL student).
- Eighty percent of the school day is taught in the second language for 3rd and 4th grade.
After two or three years in an immersion program, students will demonstrate proficiency and comprehension skills that are comparable to those of native speakers the same age. However, continued participation in an immersion program is necessary to allow the student to achieve the same grammatical accuracy, variety and complexity produced by native speakers.
In third grade CSAP tests, immersion students may perform lower than their non-immersion peers because of their reduced amount of English language instruction. By fifth grade, however, English test scores are equal or predominantly higher than the non-immersion peers.
Family support of the immersion program is critical. In addition, families are asked to read to their children for at least 30 minutes a night so that their children are continuously exposed to the English language.
For grade K-4, Denver Language school offers 4 specialty classes: art, music, P.E., and Life Skills. These classes are each on a one week rotation.