Welcome to Spanish Immersion Montessori!

LePort Montessori Schools is proud to offer Toddler and Preschool Spanish Immersion options. Parents know that early language immersion is one of the best ways for children to become bilingual – a privilege that has shown to have life-long benefits. Our Spanish Immersion programs are integrated into our Montessori programs, so children receive both an authentic Montessori education and a strong Spanish language program at the same time.

LePort’s Spanish immersion preschool program began in 2012 at our Huntington Harbor school, and due to growing parent requests, it is now offered at over six LePort Montessori Schools across the country. We are honored to be able to give our students this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to effortlessly master Spanish language skills while also providing an authentic Montessori education at the same time.

Spanish immersion preschool is a great option for English-speaking families who want to give their child the gift of bilingualism! Spanish is a useful language to know, not only in the United States but also for travel all over the world.

Spanish immersion preschool is also a good option for children who have at least one Spanish-speaking parent to retain their Spanish skills beyond the toddler years. Many families who speak a language other than English at home report that children lose their motivation to speak the language once they are surrounded by English in preschool.  By surrounding your child with Spanish language and culture throughout the formative preschool years, you will increase the chances that he will continue to speak Spanish for life.

“It is amazing to see how much Spanish my daughter, has absorbed since only September. All the children understand what is being asked of them in Spanish, and I’ve witnessed students helping each other respond and ask questions in Spanish: this is mentoring within the classroom at its best! My 4 1/2 year old daughter is bringing home books and reading in Spanish and seems to be having loads of fun while learning. It is truly amazing to see their language skills blossoming alongside their confidence!”

Spanish Immersion ParentGreatSchools.net

Full Spanish language immersion to achieve bilingualism.

Children learn language best by experiencing it naturally, by being immersed in it. Our Spanish Immersion program is led by two Spanish-speaking teachers: a Spanish-speaking Montessori preschool head teacher and a Spanish-speaking assistant teacher. Both teachers speak in Spanish all day with the children so they can absorb it effortlessly.

Montessori preschool environment.

A rich Montessori preschool environment supports optimal Spanish language learning by tying language to a broad range of day-to-day activities. Children learn all Montessori preschool skills and activities, from Practical Life to Sensorial, from language to math, in Spanish, and thus naturally acquire a broad vocabulary in Spanish.

Watch a 3-year-old discover the globe, in a LePort Spanish immersion Montessori classroom:

Program Highlights

  • Program enrollment is open to all children who will be between 18 months and four years old when they start school. Older children may be admitted if they have sufficient Spanish skills and/or come from a strong Montessori background.
  • Full Spanish immersion in a Montessori environment is achieved with highly-trained, native Spanish speaking bilingual teachers, who speak only in Spanish with all the students and with each other throughout the day. They will speak in English with the parents. Our goal is for children to understand and speak Spanish; for English-speaking children, we recommend enrollment as young as possible to achieve this goal.
  • To integrate English reading and writing, an English-speaking teacher will work with the 5 year old (3rd year/kindergarten) students in the afternoons, to ensure they learn the differences between Spanish and English writing and reading.
  • A Spanish cultural environment is created in the classroom. From equipment in the Practical Life area to stories and songs, from celebrations to art, the Spanish immersion classrooms are imbued with culture from Spanish-speaking countries around the world.

How to Apply

If you are interested in enrolling your child in the Spanish Immersion preschool, please call our school to schedule a one-on-one meeting with the Head of School, or fill out the Request Info form by clicking on the tab on the right of this page.

Eligibility

Our Spanish Immersion Montessori programs currently enroll children between the ages of 18 months and 3 ½ to 4 years.

Our Spanish Immersion Montessori programs are designed for children who have some English language background at home: At least one parent should be able to speak English at home, and commit to speaking and reading in English daily with your child at home, especially if your child is an infant or toddler and has limited exposure to English in the community.

We welcome children with Spanish knowledge into the program. Just note that our Spanish Immersion programs are not designed for native Spanish-speakers who will not be able to learn English outside of school; those children may be better served in our English-language Montessori classrooms, where they can complement their strong Spanish language skills from home with English language skills at school. If you only speak Spanish at home, one option to consider is starting your child in our English infant or toddler program, to give your child a strong grounding in English. Then, when your child turns three, she can move on into the Spanish Immersion track. In either case, we encourage you to meet with a LePort Head of School, to discuss your family’s unique circumstances, and to develop a plan that is tailored to your child’s needs.

Our Spanish Immersion program is designed to include the full three-year Montessori preschool cycle in mind; that is, it extends until your child has reached the age of 6 (this includes the traditional kindergarten year). This ensures that your child is in the Spanish immersion program long enough to acquire not only strong Spanish skills but also to learn the fundamentals of English literacy. Since the first few years focus strongly on Spanish language skills, it’s important to stay for the 3rd program year, where we invest significant time in English written language skills.

Often, children start either in our toddler program, or enroll in the multi-age Montessori primary room as 1st year students. Older children, including those seeking admittance to our elementary Spanish immersion programs, currently offered only at select locations, are admitted on a case-by-case basis. Generally, they will need to have some background in Spanish and/or strong parental and family support in Spanish to enroll after the age of four.

Program Parameters and Schedule

To enable children to effectively learn Spanish language skills, both understanding and speaking, we put in place a full Spanish immersion environment, where both teachers in the classroom speak only Spanish with the children for a large part of they day.

Younger children experience Spanish completely during the academic day (8:30 am – 3 pm) and will only interact in English at school if they stay for after care or the afterschool enrichment activities. Older children who have their Spanish skills solidified, will receive some instruction in English (from a few hours to several afternoons a week). These afternoon English instruction lessons focus on teaching literacy skills in English – both writing and reading.

Our full Spanish immersion environment enables children to gradually transition from speaking only in English to understanding Spanish (i.e., having passive language skills), to naturally speaking in Spanish (i.e., having productive language skills or “fluency”).

Children who enter our program naturally speak in English as their native language. In the Spanish immersion Montessori preschool class, teachers will consistently respond to children in Spanish and give lessons in Spanish. As children speak to teachers in English, teachers will provide the Spanish translation and encourage children to repeat back in Spanish. Experience shows that in such an immersion environment, over time children naturally switch to speaking in Spanish; and they can easily do so when they have mastered the Spanish vocabulary needed to express their needs and thoughts, they naturally want to use their new, exciting language!

We do not force children to speak in Spanish. Ever. We want Montessori school to continue to be the joyous, natural environment children enjoy in any language. In every one of our Montessori classrooms, a child’s voice is valued, whether he is speaking English, Spanish, Chinese, or another language. We know that the child has an inner desire to use his new words, so there’s no need to rush his progress and destroy that personal development. All children will communicate in their nascent second language, but all children will not do so at the same time — and in our school, that is okay!

Language Development

In our Spanish Immersion Montessori programs, our goal is to help your child acquire strong Spanish skills. By the end of the 3rd year in Montessori preschool (the equivalent of traditional kindergarten), we aim to enable your child to:

  • Understand age-appropriate Spanish.
  • Sustain age-appropriate conversations in Spanish with teachers and peers.
  • Acquire a starting level of literacy in Spanish; that is, be able to decode age-appropriate readers and write short, simple sentences in Spanish. All these goals assume that your child will join the Spanish immersion preschool program by age 3 and stay in the Montessori preschool classroom until age 6 (that is, through the 3rd year in the Montessori preschool cycle). Of course, children who join late or leave before the 3rd year may not be able to achieve all of these goals.

As children learn a second language, it is normal for them to sometimes mix languages. We encourage parents to read up on language development in bilingual children — see resources here.

Because our Immersion programs focus on building Spanish language and literacy skills first, your child’s literacy skills in English may lag initially in comparison to his peers in our English-speaking Montessori preschool rooms. Rest assured, though, that he will stay on or ahead of track in English compared to children attending play-based or traditional preschools. And this lag disappears as he enters adolescence.

  • Later introduction of reading and writing in English. In the Spanish immersion preschool program, we may not introduce your child to writing and reading in English until the 3rd year in Montessori preschool (i.e., the kindergarten year). Instead, children may learn letter-sound associations, letter shapes, and decoding/blending in Spanish first. Thus, a 5 ½ year old Spanish Immersion student may not be able to decode simple English books yet, while her peers in the English Montessori preschool class may be already reading. , For some examples, see Books to Remember
  • Delayed mastery of advanced English reading skills. Because we introduce English reading later, we may not be able to complete the Montessori phonogram program during the preschool years. While many (but not all) English-only Montessori preschool students can read regular books by the end of the kindergarten year (i.e., they read at a 1st or 2nd grade level), a typical Spanish Immersion student can expect to read at grade level in English (that is, be able to decode phonetically controlled text with no or limited multi-letter phonograms). He will be well prepared to enter a normal (public-school) 1st grade program. If he continues on to our English-language Montessori Lower Elementary program, he may need some extra time to catch up to his mono-lingual peers in English written language skills. This is a process, which our Montessori teachers will, of course, support actively.

Locations

We currently provide Spanish Immersion Montessori programs at the following LePort Schools:

  • San Francisco Mid-Market (Toddler, Preschool/Kindergarten)
  • Los Angeles–Lomita (Toddler (bilingual program), Preschool/Kindergarten)
  • Orange County–Huntington Harbor (Toddler, Preschool/Kindergarten, 1st – 3rd Grades)
  • Orange County–Irvine Spectrum (Infant, Toddler, Preschool/Kindergarten)
  • San Diego–Encinitas (Toddler (bilingual program), Preschool/Kindergarten)
  • San Diego–Solana Beach (Toddler, Preschool/Kindergarten)
  • Brooklyn–Cobble Hill (Toddler, Preschool/Kindergarten; opening Fall 2016)
  • Northern Virginia–Reston (Toddler, Preschool/Kindergarten; opening Fall 2016)
  • Northern Virginia–Chantilly (Toddler, Preschool/Kindergarten; opening Fall 2016)