At La Scuola, children have the opportunity to proactively speak a second language in a nurturing environment that stimulates all their senses. We don’t just teach the children Italian, we teach IN Italian.
A newborn’s brain is genetically primed to learn language: no one actually teaches a child to talk. Rather, parents and caregivers enable language learning by speaking and interacting with the child. Early exposure to a second language enables more neural connections to form in a child’s brain, actually improving language skills in the first language.
Our students are bilingual (many are trilingual) and as a result, have better control over their attention, decision making, and planning than students who learn in one language. Bilingualism is well known to be a strong predictor of academic success and lifelong happiness and Italian especially benefits students with an understanding of Latin roots and an increased ability to appreciate art, music, and history.
Statistically, children who study a second language score higher on verbal standardized tests conducted in English, perform better in math and logic skills testing, and are better at solving complex problems. Or, as the New York Times put it, “Bilinguals are smarter”.
As we see from the Reggio Emilia Approach, children inherently have many languages they can communicate through and express themselves with. With the language immersion and practicing a second language, we help children discover this natural multi-lingualism they have within themselves.
The Hundred Languages of Children
Immersion Model: Montreal Model
At La Scuola we follow the Montreal Model of Language Immersion. Below are the language percentages through the grades.
Preschool: approximately 100% Italian
Grades K-1: approximately 20% English – 80% Italian
Grade 2: approximately 30% English – 70% Italian
Grades 3-5: approximately 50% English – 50% Italian
Grades 6-8: approximately 70% English – 30% Italian
Preschool 1:6 or 1:8 Teacher to Child ratio
*Language percentages do not include specialist subjects.
Children are not required to speak Italian to enroll in preschool, Kindergarten or 1st Grade. Students applying to 2nd through 8th grade are evaluated for language proficiency as part of the admissions process.
Italian Language and Culture
Italy is the birthplace of the Renaissance; it is the veritable homeland of art and beauty. Italians have been the premier innovators of music, food and fashion. It is an innately tolerant culture, a culture of nomads who venture out to explore and create, bringing their treasures back to be embellished.
La Scuola Daily Rituals
At La Scuola, we embrace the Italian culture at school with daily rituals like our sit-down hot lunch. We celebrate holidays like Carnevale and any other cultural holidays celebrated in our community, such as Hannukkah, Dawali, and Solstice.
Our Italian outlook pervades our daily interactions: there is always time for a little more music, a little more art and time to appreciate the beauty of life.
Language Immersion is a cornerstone of a La Scuola education. Below is Dr. Jim Cummins’ presentation about Bilingual Education.