Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why Spanish Immersion?

    The 21st Century Advantages Are Many!

    Surprisingly, most of the world’s population is bilingual. Research has validated that children can learn multiple languages simultaneously with ease, and that there should be little concern that learning through immersion might be too demanding.

    The brain benefits immensely from speaking two or more languages; improved cognitive skills, developing denser grey matter, improved decision making skills, and even delaying the onset of dementia are just a few. Bilingualism improves children’s test scores and critical thinking abilities, as well as concentration and multi-tasking abilities. Speaking two languages also means a better salary in the workforce across a wide array of professions.  

    Recent research has produced new evidence supporting the benefits of multilingualism to executive function. Dr. Ellen Bialystok’s important research in 2010 showed that bilingual children must use their executive control system more frequently to negotiate two languages.  According to her research, those increased executive function benefits included:

    • Increased ability to focus
    • Improved multi-tasking
    • Enhanced working memory
    • Heightened ability to plan
    • Expanded problem-solving
    • Sharpened ability to filter distractions

    What is even more amazing is that Executive Function, which resides in the prefrontal cortex, is predominately developed during the first 5 years of life, the language years.

    Dr. Bialystok, and her team of five other internationally renowned cognitive researchers, recently shared their latest findings that bilingualism seems to delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by at least 5 years.

  • What is Immersion?

    Immersion simply means being surrounded by a language so it can be acquired naturally. During the first five years, children have a predisposition to easily learn language by hearing it spoken to them or around them. At Bilingual Whiz Kidz, we surround our students in Spanish and Chinese as they integrate and participate in activities, social settings and friendships. Immersion is a very natural way children learn one, two or even three languages; they just need the exposure and the conversation to occur!

    Why Spanish and Chinese?

    There are two cash languages in North America, Spanish and Chinese.

    Mandarin Chinese is the number one spoken language in the world. There are roughly 882 million people in the world who claim Mandarin as their native or primary language according to the CIA Fact Book, and this number is exponentially growing. In light of the trade relationship between the United States and China and the strengthening position of China within the global economy, the ability to speak Mandarin is increasing in importance and value.

    While Learning Mandarin is becoming increasingly popular, the United States has the 2nd largest Spanish speaking population in the world, whose buying power has reached $1 trillion annually (HispanTelligence). There will be 52 million Spanish speakers in the United States by 2020. Spanish provides a more practical opportunity for daily application than any other language because it is spoken locally. Employees who are bilingual in English and Spanish are in demand, particularly in the South and West.  (Salary.com; Heitner, K. L., 2011)

    When Should My Child Learn A Second Language? Preschool?

    Leveraging The Brain’s Potential, Naturally, at the Correct Age Appropriate Time

    — BWK SCHOOL

    Decades of scientific research has identified preschool as the age appropriate developmental period to achieve multiple language fluency. (Kulh, 2010; Brown, 1994; Fromkin and Rodman, 1997; Begley, 1996; Curtain, 1997; Harley, 1986; Patkowski, 1990)

    The ease at which the human brain learns new material, such as languages, is a function of timing as much as teaching techniques. The brain’s capability to learn new material due to age is called malleability and is a function of “the genetically timed age” a particular brain function is being developed.

    For learning languages, the brain is most malleable during the first 7 years, creating a language acquisition “window of opportunity.” (Kuhl, 2014).

    When a child is exposed to multiple languages during the preschool years, multilingualism is achieved naturally and effortlessly, just by participating in social relationships within the target language.

    Achieving fluency during preschool creates better efficiencies: Ability, Attitude and Savings

    — BWK SCHOOL

    By acquiring a language during the preschool years, students are more likely to speak without accent and achieve bilingualism with much less the effort. (Patkowski,1990; P Levitt, 2009). Because children are acquiring a second language with minimum effort, they maintain their love of learning, which only enhances acquisition of multiple languages later on. Unlike adult learners, children are able to absorb a language naturally. They learn through song, dance, and both interactive and experiential play. They mimic pronunciation fearlessly and build vocabulary effortlessly. Learning multiple languages in preschool sure beats hours in the high school Spanish lab or crunching vocabulary cards late at night! Better results are achieved too.

    Of course, parents appreciate the costs savings! Mandatory language courses at major universities are an expensive alternative to a preschool with an immersion program. So are high school exchange programs!

    The reason for these learning efficiencies involves the brain’s intense neural activity during the Language Sensitive Period. The brain is more malleable during the early childhood years, allowing better mimicking of sounds and pronunciation and less effort to learn the language. After age 7, the effort required rises dramatically while results are lower (P Levitt; 2009).

    What if my child does not know any Spanish - won't s/he be confused? What if my child speaks Spanish?

    Our teachers are highly qualified native speakers from all parts of the Spanish or Chinese speaking world who are fluent in both English and their native tongues. To help children feel comfortable, our teachers act out what they are saying using gesture and visual cues. The children love this method and enjoy joining in on the act!

    Interestingly, our program is designed for English speakers, although native speakers also enroll to preserve their heritage language, which enhances the program for all.

    For new students or if the teacher feels a child does not understand, the teacher will quickly explain the sentence in English if needed, then repeat in Spanish to ensure each child is understanding the lessons. Our goal is to encourage love of learning and love of languages and cultures through the joy of immersion.

    It is absolutely amazing how quickly our children adapt, comprehend and absorb the joy of learning within this warm environment. Equally amazing is how quickly the children pick up and learn their new language through immersion. The key is making the day fun and keeping them talking!

    How can I help my child at home if I only speak English?

    First, please speak English! While this might be strange in concept, one aspect of becoming bilingual is to have exposure to both languages. Children quickly associate the mother tongue with the speaker whom they have the relationship with. This is called simultaneous language acquisition and switching between the two languages is what enhances the brain’s cognitive development and executive function.

    Having a supportive and enthusiastic attitude toward both languages will demonstrate that you value your child’s new linguistic skill. Ask your child what s/he learned in school each day. Each week we will send electronically the new words your child is learning. Be sure to ask the name of something in Spanish or Chinese. Your child will be more than happy to teach you, earning your admiration and appreciation.

    You can also:

    Read the same book in English, but ask “what is that called in Spanish”. Play computer games in Spanish with your child using the links on our resource page. Listen to Spanish music CDs on the way to school. Sing with your child the songs s/he has learned. Encourage your child to use Spanish when around Spanish speakers; restaurants are a great opportunity. Participate in our Polyglot Club. An added advantage of active parenting is a stronger parent-child bond through mutual enjoyment of learning activities.

    How long will it take my child to begin speaking Spanish?

    All children develop and learn at different rates, but pass through the same sequential steps. With immersion, children learn Spanish via the same developmental steps as they do in English and in about the same timeframe. Our infants learn both languages simultaneously.

    The first year of linguistic development consists of the child building a base vocabulary while learning the language patterns. S/he understands 80-100% of what is spoken in the classroom and will speak using limited words or short phrases.  During the second year, children continue adding vocabulary and begin talking and responding in Spanish while participating in daily school activities. After about two years, children think in Spanish without translation and talk with a native accent.

    Will Spanish immersion hinder my child’s English language skills?

    You can never understand one language until you understand at least two

    — Geoffrey Williams

    In fact, research indicates that children who study a foreign language develop a better understanding and command of their native language. All skills and concepts learned in the second language, transfer to the native language.  ( D’Angiulli, A., Siegel, L. S., & Serra, E. 2001).

    To ensure our graduates’ continued success in kindergarten and elementary school, we do give an English lesson to our late threes and older covering English letters and phonics. By giving lessons in both languages, our students continuously scaffold, meaning they connect and compare what they know with what they are learning. Skills learned in one language are easily transferred to the other language. Children are able to recognize symbolic relationships between letters and characters to become excelling readers in both languages. We also offer a transition to kindergarten program for our fours to prepare both student and parent for the elementary school transition.

    How can my child maintain Spanish language skills after leaving Bilingual Whiz Kidz?

    This is a great question. The simple answer is through continued use and growth of the language. Keep the learning process going! Some formal postgraduate academic options are:

    • Bilingual Whiz Kidz After School classes and summer camps.
    • Hire a tutor with a weekly language lesson.
    • Enroll in an elementary school with a Dual Language Program or Immersion Program or strong Spanish Class Program. The Texas elementary school dual language and immersion programs are wonderful.

    Be sure to supplement the formal academic choice with Spanish cartoons, story time at libraries, Spanish songs on the CD while driving or web games in Spanish. Our Parent’s Resource page offers many useful resource links. The idea is sustained, continued exposure. If your child has begun to read, continue reading in both languages, preferably the same book; it’s amazing how they instantaneously learn and retain a new word during reading, by themselves!

  • How to Enroll Your Child to a Class?