Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Abintra Montessori: Spanish immersion for children at full capacity

Amy Napier Viteri at WKRN produced this video profile of the Spanish immersion program at Nashville's Abintra Montessori School. The program is at full capacity for this year and next year.

The story features an interview with Spanish Guide Patricia Salazar. The school's web site includes a description of the program:

In Abintra's Spanish Immersion classroom, the Montessori curriculum is presented entirely in Spanish. Adults speak only Spanish; children are free to speak in whatever language they feel comfortable. This provides an opportunity for children to learn a second language in a completely natural environment. This also enables children to take advantage of their critical period for native-style language acquisition. Additional support staff is provided to ensure that students receive pre-reading and writing skills in English as well.

Research shows that when children learn a second language before the developmental window closes, they enhance their own native language skills as well. They also increase their creativity, enhance their verbal and mathematical problem solving skills, and acquire advantages in concept formation ("Early Childhood Bilingualism in the Montessori Children's House," Montessori LIFE, Spring 1998). These skills contribute profoundly to a child's self-esteem and his or her sense of values. They prepare the child for life in the multi-cultural, multi-lingual world of the 21st century.

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