In January 2011, McDonald Elementary was selected to be a language immersion school by the Seattle Public School district. Spanish and Japanese are the 2 language tracks offered.
Language immersion began in the 2011-2012 school year for kindergarten and first graders. Children in 2nd-5th grades will continue to receive top notch teaching from our McDonald teachers, and some may have foreign language exposure, but will not be part of the language immersion program.
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, will take more planning and be rolled out starting in the fall of 2012.
How does the immersion language placement process work?
John Stanford International School, down the street from us, has fine tuned this over the years so McDonald will be in lock step with them in both timing and process.
Students with language skills equal to native speaking proficiency get automatic placement into that language. If parents are native speaker fluency but the student is not, the student does not get special preference. Students with an older sibling at John Stanford will be given sibling preference for the language their sibling is in. In future years, students with an older sibling in Spanish or Japanese at McDonald will get sibling preference to be in the same language. Twins are also kept in same language if the family desires. These are the only groups who receive preference.
Frequently Asked Questions
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, language placement is based first on space available.
Q: If my child speaks one of the languages but we do not live in the service area, do they get preference to get into the McDonald?
A: Speaking one of the languages only gives him/her preference for language once they’re enrolled in the school.
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.
What are Immersion Assistants and why are they so important?
An Immersion Assistant is a full-time presence in every immersion classroom. He or she is a native speaker of Spanish or Japanese.
The language immersion teaching model we’ll be using at McDonald is largely based on the system developed at John Stanford. There, they've demonstrated:
Immersion Assistants are integral to kids’ success learning Math and Science in a foreign language.
IAs are part of the model. In the words of one John Stanford parent, “The IAs make the program possible.”
But IAs are not funded by the school district. Parents raise this money.
To learn more about IAs, click here.
Learn more about our fundraising efforts to support our IAs in every classroom here.
If you are interested in hosting one of our immersion interns, click here.
Our parent volunteers have curated language resources for Japanese and Spanish. Click on the links below to read more.