What is language immersion?
Language immersion means that students are taught in a language other than the dominant, community language. In every SLLIS elementary school 100% of instruction is conducted in the immersion language.
When do students learn English?
Students first learn to read and write in the immersion language and then learn to read and write in English. Typically the start of formal English language arts classes will occur during the second semester of Second Grade and continue through Fifth Grade.
Is prior knowledge of the immersion language required to enter the school?
No. It is expected that the majority of students will come from English-only speaking households. The immersion program is designed to teach children who don’t have any prior immersion language knowledge.
Are language immersion students able to attend traditional American schools later?
Language immersion students successfully transition to all-English school environments. Each SLLIS school will meet or exceed the Missouri state content expectations (Grade Level Expectations, Standards Frameworks) and No Child Left Behind expectations.
Where are the schools located?
The Spanish School is located at 4011 Papin St., St. Louis, MO 63110 in the Forest Park SouthEast neighborhood. The French School, and The Chinese School are located at 1881 Pine Street in downtown St. Louis for the 2013-14 school year. Within three years of operating in the same space, the schools will transition into their permanent locations.  Transporation is provided for all St. Louis City residents.
How will my child respond to total immersion?
Experience and research indicate that young children have little difficulty adjusting to total immersion settings, especially when their peers are navigating similar challenges. Additionally, children’s brains are designed to acquire language rapidly, identify and reproduce sounds that don’t exist in their community/home language and quickly learn to contextualize the immersion language. Total immersion schools like SLLIS take advantage of this window of natural language acquisition.
How much is the tuition?
Each school is free of tuition for all students.
How long will it take for my child to become fluent in the immersion language?
Language immersion requires a long-term commitment. Children will not be fluent in the immersion language after a single year of language immersion. Each year in a SLLIS school, the students’ mastery of both English and the immersion language will increase. SLLIS anticipates that students will be both bilingual and bi-literate by Grade 5.
What is a public charter school?
Charter schools are independently operated public schools that are open to all St. Louis City residents, regardless of their neighborhood, socioeconomic status, academic achievement, or ethnicity. There are no admission tests or tuition fees. Parents and students choose to attend a particular charter school because its unique focus, curriculum, structure, size, environment and other features meets the needs of those students. Eligible residents of Voluntary Transfer Program school districts in St. Louis County may also attend a public charter school.
When are applications due? Will there be an admissions lottery?
Enrollment season runs from October to March. If we receive more applicants than we have spaces for, that specific school will go to lottery.
What is the teacher to student ratio?
Each Kindergarten class has one teacher and one teacher assistant for a maximum of 25 students.  This yields a teacher-student ratio of 1:12. Each First and Second Grade class have one teacher and one teacher intern for a maximum of 22 students, which yields a teacher-student ratio of 1:11.
Is there an after school program offered?
SLLIS runs the Mosaic program to provide on-site before and after care programs.  This is a fee-based program. Contact sara.asmus@sllis.org or tango@sllis.org for more information.
What is IB? Is SLLIS an IBO World School?
IB stands for the International Baccalaureate Organization. This international non-profit organization has designed three educational programs that provide a curricular framework encompassing education for students from ages 3 to 19 years. International Baccalaureate World Schools are schools that have met a rigorous three-year candidacy and authorization process. IBO World Schools participate in continuing authorization every 3 to 5 years. Each SLLIS school will open as a candidate school and will work towards authorization by year three of operations. (for more about the IB program from someone who went through it, please look for marketing intern and webmanager David’s post “What is IB?”)
What is the Primary Years Programme?
The Primary Years Programme is the IB curricular framework for ages 3 through 12. It is not a stock curriculum that a school purchases, but a constructivist method of designing transdiciplinary units of study that every teacher studies and implements. The core value of the Primary Years Programme is to allow students to construct their own meeting during lessons by connecting the content with their personal experiences. The PYP includes strong character and positive attitude development components. In each unit students are encouraged to take action steps in their personal lives and local communities to address needs that they have identified. (for more on IB programs, please visit the IBO website at http://www.ibo.org/programmes/)
How does SLLIS accommodate gifted students and/or students with special needs?
The PYP is particularly well-suited to support the accelerated learning needs of gifted students. Additionally, the total immersion program allows gifted students to make further connections through enhanced language development and problem-solving. SLLIS partners with The Belle Center to provide Special Education services to all students who qualify. Their specialists provide pull-out speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, social skills, behavior modification support and general special education support.
What qualifications does SLLIS require of its teachers?
All SLLIS teachers are required to be Highly Qualified as defined by the No Child Left Behind Act. In addition to these academic requirements, SLLIS teachers will demonstrate a commitment to the success of all of our students and families, be native or near-native speakers of their language of instruction, and be experienced teachers of early childhood or elementary education.

11 responses to “FAQ

  1. Shannon Fields

    What an exciting venture. The idea of a school which offers the IB Primary Years Program, and total language immersion is incredible. I wish I could be a part of it!

  2. Paula Hanssen

    Some parents are asking:
    Is there a timeline for getting enrollments / teachers after appproval by the university board?
    what are some dates?

    What are the deadlines for getting approval, a building, hiring faculty?

    What else needs to happen to make this a reality in ’09?

  3. This is very exciting!! If the PYP begins at age 3, what programming do you have for 3 and 4 year olds??

    I am assuming you use the public school age requirement of 5 by August 1st for Kindergarten? I can’t wait to get my child involved!! Thank you

    • After we open the kindergarten and first grade classes in August we will begin building the preschool component. At present we do not receive state funding for preschool programs, so we have a development need. To attend SLLIS children must be 5 by the first day of school, August 17,2009. Children who turn 5 between August 18th and October 1st may take a kindergarten readiness assessment to determine if they are ready for a full day kindergarten. Contact us if you would like to schedule one.

  4. Are there plans to add extra-curricular activities, such as sports?

  5. One big question…if my child will learn nothing but that different language how will i be able to relate to my child and how will she be able to relate with other kids that are not being taught another language??… i dont want my daughter to fall behind in english reading and writing.

    • Hi Ashley,
      Your concern about English language development is common. The short response is that until children begin English language arts lessons, they may temporarily lag behind their monolingual peers in English reading, word knowledge and spelling. Keeping this in mind, we encourage parents to read daily with their students in English. However, after English language arts lessons begin, the norm is for language immersion students to excel in the English language skills, as well as other skills such as nonverbal problem-solving skills and flexible thinking.

      For more information and peer-reviewed studies on the subject, refer to the Center for Applied Linguistics digest about language immersion: http://www.cal.org/resources/digest/0304fortune.html

  6. Does SLLIS stop after 4th grade? Where do the students go after that?

    • Hi Lisa,
      What’s very exciting about our schools is that we are constantly growing. Every year, we add a grade level for our advancing students. Next year, we will add a fifth grade to our Spanish and French schools for our current fourth grade students to continue their SLLIS education. Our Chinese school will add a second grade next year. The plan is to grow until grade 12 for each school.

  7. What is the enrollment policy for siblings? If I have one child that is enrolled, will the other automatically be able to enroll in kindergarten when they are five or are they subject to the lottery?

    • Hi Brook, as long as you submit a completed application before the March 4th deadline, the sibling will be guaranteed a spot.

      For an application or more questions, please contact our enrollment coordinator Anne Carr at anne@sllis.org.

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