French and Spanish Language Immersion at Eisenhower International School

Article excerpt

Elsenhower International School-a unique public school in Oklahoma-has been offering full second language immersion programs in French and Spanish throughout kindergarten to fifth grade since the early 1990s. The program at Eisenhower has been an extremely successful example of early language immersion education, evidenced by its community support and high test scores.

The immersion program was first implemented as a "school within a school" at an elementary school site in Tulsa, where students from throughout the school district could apply to participate in the program. The district quickly realized the effectiveness of immersion and committed to developing an entire school around the language immersion concept to accommodate a growing interest by parents in the community.

Eisenhower became the location for the Spanish immersion program in 199 f with 145 students. In 1992, French immersion was added to expand language immersion opportunities due to community interest, measured through the increasing numbers of applicants from the kindergarten entry point.

Eisenhower's former principal, Harriet Patterson, was responsible for developing the framework of the school's program, as well as creating the vision. She did extensive research and set up the program to utilize well-established best practices in immersion.

"It is the purpose of Eisenhower International School to develop global understanding and world citizenship through foreign language immersion programs," reads the school's mission statement, developed by Patterson and the entire staff. "With valuable help from parent and community involvement, the school promotes individual growth and development, global awareness, and cultural understanding within our pluralistic society. Our goal is to help each student contribute to and benefit from our interdependent world with appreciation and responsibility. …