Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Do I Hold My Son Back to Get into the Immersion Program?

As a linguist via flickr

Dear Dr. Gupta,


I need some advice.


As a multiracial/multicultural family it’s important that my children speak English, Spanish (which I am teaching them) and Korean.


My daughter is in Korean/English dual language program at our local school. My son didn’t get in last year (lottery system) as an entering kinder nor did he get in for entering first grade. However there is a spot in Kinder but this would mean he stay behind in kinder while his friends move on to first. Hubby says no, just have him move to first and we’ll figure out a way to teach him Korean. I say yes, have him remain in Kinder. He is a May birthday and on the smaller side.


Thoughts? Pros/Cons?


All Mixed Up


Dear All Mixed Up,


How sad it is that your second child was not able to join the program that his elder sister is in. I don’t have any experience with the US system, but in schools that I am familiar with in UK and Australia, younger siblings generally have priority, but I guess you can’t do that with a lottery.


Is there any chance of negotiating? And is there any chance that your son will be able to transfer to the bilingual program for grade 2? Would that be yet another lottery? This must be a popular program. Can you join up with other parents who have lost out and try to persuade the school to create more places on this program?


I must say that my instinct is to agree with your husband. Unless a child needs extra time in school in order to be able to cope academically or socially, I think they need to stay with their age group and with their friends. There are things that matter more than what languages you do at school.


You do not say whether your son can speak Korean–does he need to learn Korean or does he just need to develop Korean?  Where can you find appropriate support for Korean outside school? Are there any bilingual Spanish programs? Think about what choices are available to you. And think too about getting together with other lottery losers to see whether you can get enlargement of the bilingual program.


Dr. Gupta

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