Bilingual is Better

When Good Enough, is Enough - SpanglishBaby.com

When we became parents, we hoped to raise our children to be bilingual. However, since I am the only Spanish speaker in the house, and most of our social circle speaks English, the reality is that my kids speak English and occasional Spanglish.

For a time, I had pinned my hopes on sending the girls to a bilingual immersion program, an option we are lucky to have in our district. This winter when we applied to the lotteries (it’s all lottery in our area, except for our neighborhood school), we were lucky enough to get drawn for our second choice bilingual program, and waitlisted for our first.

However, as I’ve shared in earlier posts, we have concerns about the traditional pedagogy at both of these schools and after a lot of discussion, my husband and I decided that if we were chosen for one of the progressive charter schools in our area, that we would send our daughter there. This week, we found out that we did get in at one of these schools, a k-12 progressive school on a lovely campus which has many things that we want, but absolutely no language instruction until high school.

We are still waiting to hear on a handful of other lotteries (at one popular LA charter we are #729 on the waitlist!), but we are excited about the options we have already. Our ideal plan for her would actually be to keep her at her current school, which goes through kinder, and then move her to a first grade or even into kindergarten as a 6-year-old.

If we knew that we would have good options next year, we would wait, but we don’t; we have enough friends in these lotteries to know that we are lucky to have these choices this year and we absolutely cannot count on these doors to be open next year. The progressive charter she will likely attend probably won’t have more than 15 spaces next year, down from over 60 due to a new transitional kindergarten program opening this year, so it really is a small window of opportunity that we have.

In our dreams, we would be able to send our girls to a progressive bilingual immersion program on a beautiful campus run by loving and devoted faculty. And we would be able to put her there at the exact time we felt she was ready.

Unfortunately, that dream is not available to us, and when we sat down to do the math and really prioritize what we want them to get out of their education, creativity, leadership, and empowerment ranked higher than bilingualism.

We decided it would be easier to supplement the things lacking at a progressive charter than to supplement what would be lacking at a traditional bilingual school. We can hire a spanish tutor, travel and send the girls to Spanish camp. Maybe they won’t be fluent before they get to high school, but already they understand some Spanish, sometimes surprisingly so.

We often read to the girls in Spanish, and while often they do need a translation, I am surprised by how much they understand on their own. It is my hope that with the little we are able to give them, plus some language experiences we’ll have to create, by the time they do get to high school, they’ll be ready to become fluent.

It’s not ideal, far from it, but sometimes, good enough has to be enough.
{Photo by whgrad}

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