What is language immersion? Language immersion is an instructional approach that enables students to learn a second language “naturally” by learning core subject areas in a new language. It’s the approach that Europe has used for centuries and it’s based on the fact that the brain of a younger student is more flexible and adept to learning a second language when it’s naturally incorporated into instruction.
How is this different from just learning a foreign language? Most foreign language classes are limited to a couple of hours per week and not offered until upper grade levels. They primarily focus on basic speaking skills and grammar. Immersion is about learning core subjects within a new language; preparing GVA students to be fluent in discussions about math, science, social studies, and cultural events in addition to literacy.
What does language immersion look like in the classroom? Core courses are taught in the immersion language in order for students to gain reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills in a new language.
How can a kindergarten student learn in a new language they don’t know? It becomes natural because the brain is still developing and ready to learn languages. Learning to read or compute mathematically in a second language actually strengthens the capacity for learning math or reading in English. The neural brain pathways that enable this great capacity for learning actually begin to close off as we get older, making it more difficult for older monolingual learners to add new language skills.
Does learning in language immersion hurt a student’s ability to keep pace in English and other subject areas and hurt their test scores? National and International Language research has proven that students will perform at or above grade level even though they are learning content through immersion. Additionally, by the time these students reach 8th grade, their reading, writing and speaking skills in a new language are the equivalent of a native student speaking the target language.
How can I help my student with homework if he’s learning Chinese and I don’t know Chinese? Homework in the immersion language is very limited.
What has research shown as the benefits of learning more than one language? Research has shown several benefits including improved overall academic progress, enhanced student sense of achievement, increased cultural awareness, enhanced career opportunities, improved chance for college admissions, and better critical thinking skills.
If my child is in language immersion classes won't they fall behind in core subject areas? One of the great things about the GVA model is that language immersion is the natural way to learn a language, similar to the approach that multi-lingual Europeans have successfully used for decades. Instead of taking a separate language course for a few hours a week, GVA students learn core courses in English and their new language. Acclaimed international research has shown that students who learn this way actually outperform their peers in academic achievement.
What is the GVA curriculum? The Colorado Content Standards are the center of the K-8 curriculum. These curriculum content standards are supported with aligned instructional materials and include: enVisions Immersion Mathematics, Better Immersion Chinese Literacy, Tesoro Spanish Literacy, Mille Image French Literacy, Russian and German Ministry materials, and the SPARK Physical Education Program. The ‘Voices’ English balanced Literacy program with read aloud has six school-wide themes focused on building character and global awareness. Teachers spend a considerable time with students around Perspective Taking and Conflict Resolution, as these are core to promoting Cultural Competence and the ‘We Teach Peace’ Character Education Program. Additional high quality instructional units of study have been developed in Science and Social Studies to deliver in English and the target language.
What elective classes and extra-curricular options are offered? Every GVA campus offers Art, Music, and Health and Physical Education classes during the week, either taught by the classroom teacher or taught by a content specialist. The after-school enrichment program, called ENCORE, is a fee-based program offering a variety of classes by local specialty instructors. These may include dance, tae kwon do , art and more depending upon student interest and availability of instructors. GVA also has annual events such as a science fair, an oratorical festival and monthly international assemblies.
Do you issue regular report cards? GVA Standards-based report cards are distributed after each quarter. Teacher report on progress toward proficiency in all content areas including the target language.
Do your students take the state Colorado Measurement of Academic Success (CMAS) tests? Yes, all students in grade 3 through grade 8 take the Colorado Department of Education CMAS PARCC test in English Language Arts and Mathematics. In grades 5 and 8, students take the CMAS Science test. Additional assessments include the DIBELs assessments for reading; NWEA Measurement of Academic Progress (MAP) in Reading, Writing, and Math, and the ACTFL Assessment Performance toward Proficiency (AAPPL) to measure literacy levels in the target language.
What options do students have with advanced language skills once they reach high school? GVA Middle School students develop Individual College and Career Plans (ICAP), to facilitate future plans to continue language studies through high school and college. These plans outline the pipeline toward developing the appropriate pathway for advanced dual credit language skills track and enable students to earn high school graduation credit and/or college credits for their advanced language skills while they’re still in high school.
How does this program work for English Language Learners? This is an exceptional program for ELL or ESL students because learning through immersion builds upon each student’s current language skills. Therefore a Spanish-speaking student will be able to build their English skills without discounting their Spanish skills. ELL students in the GVA program have repeatedly shown significant academic achievement growth that far exceeds that of students in traditional ESL programs.
Do you have programs for Gifted and Talented students? Gifted and Talented students provide services according to State and Federal guidelines for a Advanced Learning Plan and provided expanded study and learning opportunities within the GVA program.
Does GVA provide services for special needs students? Yes. As a public school GVA provides services in accordance with State and Federal guidelines that are based on the student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) that is developed by specialist and staff members.
My child is a native-language Spanish speaker. Can she enroll in the Mandarin program? Native Spanish Speaking children with fluent English skills may enroll in a third language. Otherwise, we recommend enrolling in the Spanish Village with extra instruction in English to enhance overall command of both languages.
What is the average student to teacher ratio? GVA classrooms average about 16 students per instructor with lower grade classrooms having more students per classroom. Kindergarten classrooms typically have more students with a teacher and instructional assistant assigned to each class.
Are your teachers licensed? GVA teachers meet or exceed all state and federal requirements for highly qualified teachers. Language immersion guest teachers are all native-language speakers with a minimum of three years of elementary and/or middle school teaching experience. While 25-30% of our teachers are from countries outside the U.S., they must all meet or surpass state and federal teaching requirements.
How is technology incorporated into the school? Each classroom is outfitted with interactive whiteboards. GVA currently has a technology plan incorporating 1:1 student to technology ratio to leverage the instructional opportunities available through the internet in the Middle School.
What are the fees for the before and after school programs? These are determined at the local school level but they are fully licensed and highly competitive.
Are there any fees or tuition to attend the school? All of the K-8 Global Village Academies provide free public education and offer tuition-free full day kindergarten. There are fees charged for the preschool and for any before and after-school programs.
Do students have to live in the Local School District? No. Any Colorado student may enroll in GVA.
Is busing provided? Ft. Collins and Colorado Springs provide bus transportation. The other campuses explore transportation options, based on demand.
Is there going to be a school lottery? Yes, the lottery will be held in the Winter of each year. Following the lottery, students are admitted to the school on a first-come, first-served basis and enrolled as long as space is available.
Do you serve lunch and do you offer free and reduced lunch pricing? All GVA schools offer a lunch and breakfast. Check with your local school regarding prices and discounts are available by filling out the Free or Reduced fee lunch application and meeting federal income qualifying requirements.
Do you require student uniforms? Yes students are required to wear a GVA T-shirt or Polo shirt with navy blue or khaki colored pants. Girls may wear navy blue or Kaki dresses or skirts. The GVA T-shirts and Polos can be purchased on the GVA website directly from the supplier.
What about school safety? Each Academy has a School Safety and Emergency Response Plan in place. The building will be designed with a locked single primary point of entry with a security buzzer entry system. The front desk will check IDs of all adults entering the building.
When will school start? Each school's calendar is posted on this website but generally they start the school year around the second week of August. The school calendar will basically follow the local School District calendar. Because GVA is committed to additional time and opportunity for students, the GVA calendar includes an extended school day and additional instructional days than the Colorado Department of Education requires. And all GVA schools include tuition-free full day kindergarten.
Does each campus have a school nurse? GVA has a part-time nurse overseeing the school operations, with First Aid certified staff trained to handle daily medications and emergencies.
Does GVA have any working relationships with other countries? GVA currently has partnerships with the Beijing Foreign Language School and the Spanish Ministry of Education. GVA is also has one of the nation’s first Confucius Classroom programs and has received nearly $2 million in federal grants to develop language curriculum and train foreign teachers in language immersion instruction.
If my student is accepted through the lottery process, will his/her sibling be assured a seat in the school in the future? Yes, siblings are given priority in the enrollment process but you must enroll them within the timeline window outlined by your local school.
Who governs the school? The school is governed by a local five-member Board of Directors that includes parents and community members with business, education, and government experience. The local board also has three of its members serving on the statewide Global Village Collaborative Board, which guides the central administrative services provided to all GVA schools.
How can parents get involved? GVA has a PTO and a school accountability committee and welcomes other parent groups that may form or support various activities or events at the school.