In January 2011, McDonald Elementary was selected to be a language immersion school by the Seattle Public School district. Spanish and Japanese were and still are the two language tracks offered.
Language immersion began in the 2011-2012 school year for kindergarten and first graders. Children in second through fifth grade that year continued to receive top notch teaching from our McDonald teachers in English. Some had foreign language exposure, but they were not part of the language immersion program. In each successive year a new class of incoming kindergarten students joined the immersion program and our language academics advanced another grade level.
Other components of international education (not only language immersion, but a complete integrated curriculum that helps develop a global perspective) outlined by Karen Kodama, Director of International Education for SPS, was rolled out in the fall of 2012, and we became the McDonald International School.
With the 2015-16 school year we finally see language immersion provided at every grade level, kindergarten through fifth grade. McDonald Int'l students spend half their day learing literacy and social studies subjects in English, and half their day learning math and science in their immersion language (either Japanese or Spanish).
Seattle Public School's vision for International Education consists of three main areas of focus: Academic Excellence, Gobal Perspectives, and World Languages to develop their students' cultural and global competency. In pursuit of these areas, schools are expected to pursue innovative teaching methods, maximize the use of technology, and engage in meaningful partnerships. Download the SPS vision for International Education diagram above for a visual representation.
All children assigned to Kindergarten at McDonald International School by early May will receive a welcome letter and a language preference form from the school.
Parents should return the preference form to the school office by the deadline, indicating: language preference, if child has a sibling at McDonald, and/or if the child is a fluent speaker of the language. 15% of kindergarten and first grade seats will be reserved for heritage language speakers – those students whose first language is either Japanese or Spanish. These students will be assigned to classes first.
In April, fluent speakers will be invited for a language fluency interview.
Once fluency interviews are complete the McDonald Building Leadership Team meets to assign students to either Japanese or Spanish. We do this by:
First grade students assigned to McDonald International School will receive the same welcome letter and preference form. Language assignment is based on space available. Waitlists will be created as per #5 above.
New students may not enter second, third, fourth or fifth grade at McDonald unless they are fluent in the immersion language. Applicants will be invited for a fluency interview.
Q: If my child does not speak one of the languages, but has family members who do speak the language, does that give him/her preference?
A: No. Preference is only given to students who are native/near native speakers.
Q: If my child does not speak one of the languages, but was born in a country where the language is spoken, does that give him/her preference?
A: No. (See above)
Q: If my child has had exposure to one of the languages (ex. Immersion pre-school), does that give him/her preference?
A: Only if they pass the language fluency interview given in June.
Q: If my child speaks one of the languages and enters at first grade, will they be guaranteed a spot in that language?
A: No. At first grade and above, language placement is based first on space available.
Q: Is McDonald able to handle the increasing enrollment at the school?
A: The school is in continuous dialogue with SPS around enrollment figures and building capacity.
An Immersion Assistant or Intern is a full-time presence in every immersion classroom. He or she is a native speaker of Spanish or Japanese. These Assistants and Interns form the Immersion Support structure vital for the success of our immersion classrooms.
The language immersion teaching model we use at McDonald is largely based on the system developed at John Stanford. There, they've demonstrated:
Immersion Support is integral to kids’ success learning Math and Science in a foreign language.
But Immersion Assistants and Interns are not funded by the school district. Parents raise this money.
To learn more about Immersion Assistants and Interns, click here.
Learn more about our fundraising efforts to provide Immersion Support in every classroom here.
If you are interested in hosting one of our Immersion Interns, click here.
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