Frequently Asked Questions
The tenets of HWIS’ full immersion philosophy are:
- In preschool, nearly all (90%) of the learning instruction takes place in the target language—the language we are acquiring, and English is added, as the students progress through elementary, to a maximum of 40% of the instructional time for grades 4 and 5.
- Teachers are committed to remaining in the target language throughout the day, including transitions, snack & lunch times, and recess. Specials are taught in the target language where possible, and are not part of the model design calculation.
- We provide a literacy-rich environment, with classroom materials and signage to help support target language learning throughout the day.
- HWIS teachers aid comprehension through non-verbal cues and presentation strategies.
- Daily routines and the repetition of useful passwords or phrases also help students gain a foothold for building vocabulary.
HWIS implements best practices as part of the delivery of Creative Curriculum, which is child-centered, play, project, and theme-based, featuring methodically developed teacher-executed scheduled, structured, and non-structured activities.
It takes intensive planning, but time management is one of our greatest strengths. Our classrooms are extremely efficient learning environments. Small class sizes allow teachers to be highly attentive to students’ needs and learning styles, while administrative tasks and transitions move quickly. In addition, English and 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 to transfer over from one language to another.
National studies have shown that children in dual-language programs perform at an equal or superior skill level to their monolingual English speaking peers on achievement tests in math, reading and writing. Our testing of our grade 2 students validates this finding. To review our ERB results, visit HWIS' Our Results page.
Teachers have the flexibility and time to individually tailor communication, one-on-one interaction, and performance tasks to students’ proficiency levels. In addition, our mixed-age classrooms and full-immersion environment allow children at multiple skill levels to benefit from participating in the same activity.
It is actually relatively easy for students to learn multiple languages concurrently. Historically, parents interested in both languages have enrolled their children in the day school in one target language, and in after school programs in the other. Some parents choose our camp sessions as a means for introducing or continuing tutelage in an additional language. However, sustained commitment is crucial for each language introduced. Acquiring a new language and becoming highly proficient or fluent is a long-term process.
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.
HWIS enjoys diversity within its Mandarin and Spanish student population. 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.
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. Class newsletters also give helpful background information about students’ day-to-day activities at school.
Students begin receiving homework in Kindergarten. The amount of homework assigned depends on a child’s age, and is appropriate to his or her attention span. Homework is meant to provide an opportunity to practice what has been learned in school.
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