Dual Language Immersion in Early Years – Everything You Want to Know

April 24, 2023 | Blog, Education

“Language immersion is the most natural way to learn a language – to absorb it during the daily experience as a component of general exploration of the world. Montessori lends itself beautifully to this kind of absorption! Since learning happens by experience using the self-correcting, hands-on Montessori materials in our classrooms, there’s no reliance on language for children to learn. The child does not feel anxious or out of place; they naturally navigate the classroom at their own lead even while language fluency is building. Further, Montessori presentations are already designed to isolate and highlight vocabulary in a deliberate manner to take advantage of the child’s “Absorbent Mind”.  Guidepost Montessori Paris Monceau


Guidepost Montessori answers all your questions on
Dual Language Immersion in Early Years

How does language acquisition happen in your Montessori environment?

 

Children under the age of six have tremendously powerful, absorbent minds. They pick up language effortlessly and joyfully by being immersed in it. This is how children acquire their native language. So, throughout the day we immerse our children in English and French with carefully chosen songs, stories, poems, and ongoing conversation with their teachers and peers. Equally important are the hundreds of concrete Montessori learning materials that the teacher presents with the accompanying vocabulary in the target language. These materials help make language acquisition a tangible and meaningful part of the child’s daily experience.

We speak don’t speak English or French at home. Is that okay?

 

Yes! Our program does not require any prior knowledge of English or French. Our program is designed for children from diverse language backgrounds: monolingual, bilingual or multilingual.

 

Dual Language Immersion in Early Years

How do children communicate with their friends and teachers if they can’t speak the target language at first?

 

We always use a gentle, respectful approach when communicating with our students. Because our learning materials are concrete — like our Golden Beads for counting or Puzzle Maps in geography — students can use them even before they gain proficiency in the immersion languages. If a child expresses a need in either language — “I am hungry for a snack!” — the Guide will ensure that need is met by showing the child where the snack table is and modelling the relevant vocabulary. We never force children to speak in any specific language. We know that with continual exposure, engaging lessons, and a community of peers, children will express themselves joyfully when they are ready.

Do children learn to read and write in English? What about in French?

 

Our program follows a sequence of lessons for children to gain literacy in both. We work together with the parents to identify which language should become the first target language as far as literacy is concerned, taking into consideration families’ unique situations and goals. Once the literacy skills in the first target language have progressed, we begin the literacy sequence in the other language.

Why is the last year of Children’s House so important in your bilingual program?

 

This year is significant in all our Montessori programs, as this is the time children draw upon their years of using concrete materials to arrive at abstract understanding and expression. The final year is also where children consolidate their literacy skills in both languages. You will see the investment in your children’s education blossom into fruition!

 

Dual Language Immersion for children

Do you integrate any cultural knowledge or activities other than language acquisition?

 

Yes! We explore cultures and countries through geographical study, songs, stories, food, traditions, and other celebrations.

How will I be able to communicate with my child’s teacher if I don’t speak English?

 

Our teachers are also proficient in French. Teacher communication with parents, whether written or oral, will always be bilingual. In addition to English or French, other languages are spoken at our diverse campus. 

How can I support my child’s language development at home?

 

While your child is immersed in English and French at school, parents are expected to support their child’s language development with the languages spoken at home.  A strong foundation in the mother tongue(s) is very important in learning additional languages. A rich oral environment is essential to strong vocabulary development. So, talk, sing, and read to your children. Take them on outings in nature, to museums, plays, fairs, and community events where they will be exposed to enriching vocabulary.

 

Early literacy skills development can be supported through fun activities at home, such as labelling objects around the house, helping to create a grocery list, writing thank-you cards for birthday presents, or keeping a vacation journal. The same activities can be used to increase exposure and practice of any of the languages taught at school.


Guidepost Montessori can be found all over the world. Guidepost Montessori Paris Monceau in France offer a Toddler Program for children from 2-3 years and Children’s House for 3-6 years.

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