Bilingualism, Biliteracy, Multiculturalism and High Academic Achievement

2011 Spanish Embassy School of The Year  National Middle School- 1st Place

This award is given to schools in the USA that show excellence in Content and Language Integrated Learning Programs where Spanish is the target language

2013 School of Distinction Award-Magnet Schools of America

The foremost national authority on magnet schools and their educational programs, Magnet Schools of America (MSA), has singled out the World Language Immersion Program at Westdale Middle for award, recognizing our cutting-edge program and curriculum as a standard of excellence for others in the United States.

 2013 and 2017 State Certification by the Louisiana State Department of Education

Westdale Middle School has been designated a state-certified World Language Immersion School by the Louisiana Department of Education, based on overall excellence in offering high quality, highly effective world language immersion learning and teaching.

2016- LabelFrancÉducation

A seal of quality awarded by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs to schools providing outstanding bilingual education in French as part of their curriculum. Outstanding institutions demonstrate strong bilingual academic programs, qualified teachers, on-going pedagogical training, a strong network of French partners and resources, and the successful certification of students through French language testing, such as the DELF/DALF exam.

2012-2017 DELF EXAM

French immersion students received A2 or B1 DELF exams at Westdale Middle School during the school year and receive lifetime diplomas presented by the Consul General of France recognizing their accomplishment. In 2017 100% of students passed the B1 DELF exam.

http://brflaim.org/bric

The Baton Rouge Immersion Cooperative is a non-profit organization dedicated to elevating, expanding and supporting world language immersion programs in the East Baton Rouge School System. The group is comprised of parents, immersion principals, teachers, staff and community members.

What is an immersion program?

The Magnet Immersion Program at Westdale Middle School was created to teach sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students through an “immersed” world language curriculum instead of teaching language as an independent subject.  Activities related to the French and Spanish languages and the cultures of all French speaking countries, Spain, and Latin America are incorporated into the daily curriculum.

At Westdale Middle School immersion students take math, science, social studies, and literature in the second languages of French or Spanish. A few students are enrolled in classes for both languages.  Immersion instruction is 95% in Spanish or French and taught by highly qualified native speakers from Spain, Columbia, Cuba, France, Guadeloupe, and Martinique. The goal of the immersion program at WMS is to teach students to be fluent in a target language other than English, and to gain the skills necessary to understand and communicate in that language.

Teaching in a second language requires more visual and application activities, because of the additional difficulty of teaching unit concepts in the second language. Teachers speak only the target language to teach academic subjects, using a wide range of instructional strategies and materials. Students must speak in the second language even when chatting with each other!  In addition to the immersion program activities, magnet students enjoy all of the school-wide opportunities offered at Westdale Middle. Many of the students are also in the talented, gifted, or Great Scholars Academy classes.

In order to participate in the program, students must meet all magnet school requirements, plus be fluent Spanish and/or French speakers.  Most of the immersion students came to Westdale Middle School from BRFLAIM, a very successful elementary immersion program. Westdale also offers a Heritage Language Program for students with a home language of Spanish.  The students in this program come to us from many different elementary schools across the parish. The program currently has 140 students and has become a very hard working and successful part of the overall program at Westdale.

In 2022, Westdale Middle will add a Mandarin language program when students at BRFLAIM matriculate to middle school.

For more information, contact Magnet Program Site Coordinator, Clare Peterson at 924-1308 or at crochester@ebrschools.org.

Tips for Parents

This may seem obvious, but your encouragement will be immensely helpful for your child. If you approach French and Spanish immersion with trepidation and stress, your child will pick up on this. Show interest in what they’re doing in school and reinforce that it’s amazing that they’re learning a whole new language.

Parents often feel that focusing on English will further confuse their child’s work in French and Spanish, but research shows that the opposite is true. Having strong foundations in English is key to grasping additional languages. This means that any work that you do in English will pay off in French and Spanish. The sooner a child can feel confident in their native tongue, the sooner their brain can make space for a second language. To reiterate, working on English will not confuse your child, but will actually help them! Give them a solid English toolkit to work with. Read together, write together, and encourage any English educational activities.

Make your household a place for language acquisition. Put “le” and “la” sticky notes on objects to learn feminine and masculine. Compare commonly used English and French and/or Spanish words (banana versus banane), positioning your child as the expert. If you have no experience in French or Spanish, learn along with your child and try and pick up a few functional words to use around the house.

If you can’t read in French and Spanish, simply do English reading at home. Once a child understands that reading is the tool needed to unlock a world of fantastic plotlines and tales, reading becomes less of a chore and more of an enjoyable pass time. Be sure to choose books that are at your child’s level, and consider reading more challenging books with your child so that you can discuss what you read together.

This may be a tad painful initially, but it will serve you well in the long run. Even if you don’t understand the words, getting a few basic phonetic rules under your belt will help you immensely, especially when your child has a dictée (dictation) for homework. There are all kinds of useful charts to be found online, and entire websites that do online text-to-speech translations from French and/or Spanish to English. Gather some resources and your ability to help will soar!

They will know the ins and outs of how your child is doing, and can offer you a wealth of ideas to keep things on track. Ask your child to share google classroom information so that you can see for yourself what is happening in the classrooms.  Use Home Access to stay informed of your child’s assignments and grades.

There will likely be times when the second language is a little tricky for your child, but as long as they have a strong support network around them, they will get through the bumps and speak fluently before you know it! If you can give your child the gift of a second language, it will be a worthwhile venture!

Feel free to contact Clare Peterson when you have celebrations or concerns you want to share. You can reach me via email at crochester@ebrschools.org or by phone at 225-924-1308.

I’m wishing you a smooth year as your child navigates French and Spanish immersion at Westdale Middle School, and hope that these tips are of use to you and your family.