Language Immersion at McDonald
Our language immersion model makes it possible for our kids to successfully learn math and science in a classroom where the teacher speaks only Spanish or Japanese.
An Immersion Assistant (IA) is an essential part of the model. He or she is a full-time presence in every immersion classroom, and a native speaker of Spanish or Japanese.
IAs not only reduce the student-teacher ratio, but by adding a second native speaker in the classroom, they make it possible for kids to hear and have conversations in the target language.
IAs are integral to our kids’ success learning Math and Science in a foreign language.
We asked our teachers what they needed from us in order to help our kids succeed in math and science. Their answer was clear: we need to continue providing IAs for our classrooms.
"Having an IA is invaluable," says Spanish immersion teach Diana Einmo, who points out that the mean MAP score for math this Fall and Winter for all McDonald first graders as a group is at 95% as it compares to other first graders nationally. (The first graders in the Seattle School District, by contrast, average less than 55%). IAs provide the support to make such scores possible as well as learn the immersion language.
But IAs are not funded by the school district. Parents must raise this money.
Make your donation here.
The Immersion Support Fund Drive
The cost of a full-time language Immersion Assistant, who supports two language classrooms per day, is $47,000 per year.
Your PTA voted to reduce the fundraising ask for families beginning last year. This means that fewer IAs will be hired, and immersion support (IAs and Interns) will be allocated according to classroom need.
Our new IS fundraising goal comes to $850 per student for 1st-4th Graders, and $1700 for Kindergarteners (since this covers 2 years, the current year and 2016-17).
In order to hire for September 2016, this money must be in the bank by the end of February 2016. Make your tax-deductible contribution to the Immersion Support Fund today.
Our goal is to raise $414,000 in order to bring back all 7 of this year’s Immersion Assistants (IA's) PLUS 6 Immersion Interns to the program.
Why not have all volunteers or interns instead of IAs?
We did not end up at this need haphazardly. We value our volunteers and we value our Immersion Interns. However, feedback received from staff and administration highlights the huge benefit to hiring back the same Immersion Assistants each year.
Immersion Interns are typically international education students who are only with us for a single school year, with new interns having to be trained and acclimated to our school and systems each year. Immersion Assistants, on the other hand, are experienced instructional assistants who stay with us year after year.
We learned that the IAs’ experience has great value to the teacher and students; when they know routines, methods, procedures, etc., the classroom teacher is not burdened with retraining each year, and the IA can build on that experience and increase their contributions each year. This allows the teacher AND the assistant to focus on our kids all 180 days of the year with the knowledge and practice to maximize each day.
What value is my child getting for the $850?
- A 15:1 ratio instead of a 30:1 ratio, which translates to more help for your child and more focused, personal attention for your child
- Potential 9:1 ratios if parent volunteers or interns are also in the classroom
- Higher rate of language acquisition - our children learn the language faster by having two native speakers in the classroom instead of just one
- Greater understanding - having a second native speaker for the teacher to model interactions with makes it easier for your kids to understand the information being conveyed
McDonald International vs. Private School Options
We know that language immersion has proven to yield incredible long-term learning benefits and that these few years early in their education are incredibly important and fleeting. The cost of investing in a quality, and hopefully ideal, learning environment versus an adequate learning environment is low compared to the alternatives.
Private schooling is $600 to $3000 per month.
Full-time preschool is $900 to $1600 per month.
At McDonald, the cost of bringing a world-class learning environment to your student averages about $85 per month, or $850 per year.
We understand that not every family can afford to donate $850 to support the Immersion Program. Please speak with your family, and figure out how to give as generously as you can to reach our $414,000 Immersion Support Fund goal. This is a great way for grandparents and other extended family members to support their student's education today.
More about immersion benefits
What are Immersion Assistants and Immersion Interns?
Benefits for our business donors - click here