The tenets of HWIS’ full immersion philosophy are:
- Daily routines and the repetition of useful “passwords” or phrases also help students gain a foothold for building vocabulary.
- HWIS teachers aid comprehension through non-verbal clues and presentation strategies.
- We provide a literacy rich environment, with classroom materials and signage to help support target language learning throughout the day.
- Teachers are committed to remaining in the target language including transitions, snack and lunch times, physical fitness, and recess.
- Nearly all (90%) of the learning instruction takes place using the target language (language we are developing) in preschool and English is added as the student progress through elementary to a maximum of 40% of the instructional time in English in grades 4 and 5.
What early childhood best practices does HWIS use in the preschool?
- HWIS implements the best practices that are part of the delivery of Creative Curriculum: child-centered, play-based, project and theme based with complimentary methodically planned and developed teacher executed scheduled structured and non-structured activities.
It takes planning, but time management is one of our greatest strengths. Our classrooms are extremely efficient learning environments. Small class sizes allow for teachers to be highly attentive to students’ needs and learning styles, while administrative tasks and transitions move quickly. In addition, the English curriculum and the target language curriculum are aligned, which allows for synergistic learning—students make connections and reinforce concepts and ideas in both languages. In addition, a dual-language curriculum allows for skills transfer from one language to the other.
National studies have shown that children in dual-language programs as a group perform the same or better than their monolingual English speaking peers in achievement tests in math, reading and writing. HWIS testing of students in grades 2 validates this finding.
Teachers have the flexibility and time to individually tailor communication, one-on-one interaction, and performance tasks according to students’ proficiency levels. In addition, our mixed-age classrooms and full-immersion environment allow children at multiple levels to benefit from participating in the same activity.
Absolutely. It is actually relatively easy for students to learn a third, fourth, fifth … language. Parents who choose to enroll their child in both programs historically have attended the day school in one language and the after school program in the other. Some parents choose our summer camp sessions as a means for introducing or continuing an additional language. However, commitment should be maintained for each language introduced. Acquiring a new language and becoming highly proficient or fluent is a long-term process. It is not valuable to begin an endeavor that a family cannot sustain either at school or at home.
We go outside for recess each day, weather permitting, to give children a chance to move their muscles, interact freely with their friends, and connect with the natural world. During recess children are free to pursue their own activities and companions. We also have structured PE time twice per week. Instruction in PE may be conducted in English with a qualified PE instructor. During the winter months HWIS contracts time with Summit YMCA in NJ and NY Sports Club in NY.
HWIS enjoys diversity within its Mandarin and Spanish student population. Only about 10% of our students come from backgrounds in which the target language is spoken at home. The majority come from families where there is no connection to the language or culture, or where there may be a cultural connection but the language is not spoken. We have many multi-racial and multi-ethnic families at HWIS.
You do not need to speak the target language to be supportive of your child’s learning. Homework assignments are designed to review lessons previously presented in class, so sometimes it is simply a question of helping your child get started. Incorporating homework time into your family’s routine, establishing a quiet and comfortable study environment, encouraging your child to ask questions in class, and reaching out to your child’s teacher via email or phone for further clarification are all useful avenues for support. Classroom newsletters also give helpful background information about students’ day-to-day activities at school.
Students begin receiving homework in Kindergarten. The amount given depends on the child’s age and is appropriate to their attention span. Homework is meant to provide opportunities to practice what was learned in school.
For our youngest students, it is all about repeating the words and singing the songs they practiced in class. Parents are given all the necessary tools to support their children.
Students are expected to do their homework on their own. The assigned work will exclusively be exercises that were already done in class. This is a way for the teacher to reinforce a specific lesson or concept.