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International Schools and Immersion Programs

Here in Portland, we believe we have a wealth of educational choices.  On such choice is language study.  Portland Public Schools offer language immersion programs: Ainsworth, Atkinson, Beach offers Spanish Immersion; Woodstock offers Mandarin Immersion; Richmond offers Japanses.

The International School also offers language study (Chinese, Japanese, Spanish) for our children.  Melinda, in a previous conversation on kindergartens, says:

Giving our daughter a bilingual education is a real priority for us. We went to an open house at the International School last night. They offer immersion programs in Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese from pre-school to grade 5. Does anyone have any experience, both positive and maybe not-so-positive, with the International School?


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I don't know much about K-5 there, but my 4-year-old is in the Spanish pre-k at the International School. We love it. The teachers are, in addition to being native Spanish speakers, incredibly loving and welcoming. My only complaint about the school, so far, is that they ask for money quite frequently. That, of course, would probably be the case anywhere in town.

Cedarwood School has an excellent language program. They begin teaching both Japanese and Spanish to the children in 1st grade.

I wish the public schools would have more languages to select from as far as immersion. Seriously, Russian would be great. Also, I know German and French are out of vogue these days, but it would be nice to have more choice.

Portland Public Schools (PPS) is starting a Russian program for fall 2007. Here's the link with more information:


We are really looking for a Mandarin immersion program. The chances of her getting into Woodstock (the PPS Mandarin program) are very slim. They give priority to siblings and then to those that live in the school's zone. We have neither advantage. All other spots are available by lottery. They had a large waiting list last year :(
I wish there were enough seats for all who wanted to attend!

Not to hijack, but can anybody recommend a program in Portland where a kid could just have weekly language lessons? My son's almost two, and he'll likely go to Buckman (the arts-magnet elementary) since we're in that zone.

But we'd like him to have some exposure to foreign languages even in pre-K. Any options that don't involve hiring a nanny who speaks a different language? (That's out of our budget!) He's currently in daycare 18 hours a week, but foreign languages aren't in the daycare's curriculum.

As a teacher in a bilingual program in Beaverton and a former employee of an international school overseas, a bilingual education for my child (who is due in two weeks) is one of my biggest priorities. Especially since my husband's first language is Spanish. From what I have researched, as we are beginning to look at houses, Atkinson seems like a wonderful public school option. They have Spanish Immersion and Spanish as a Second Language as well as native language programs in Vietnamese, Cantonese, and Russian. I have a friend whose three children all go there and they seem to love it and are very bilingual. I also like it because the student population seems diverse, which seems like another important thing for us as far as where our child goes to school.

Check out the Portland Early Learning Project. They offder Spanish classes for preschoolers and do in-school classes. Their program is called SLIP: Spanish Langaueg in Play. I's not immersion but fun exposure (at least that's how I'd describe it). They currently offer the in-school classes at our kids' day care/school and they're fantastic. You pay extra, but not too much. The teahcer is prepared, enthusiastic, has great props, and shares lessons with parents via e-mail. Their web site is: www.portlandearlylearning.com.

PPS' Clarendon is a Spanish immerson program. Currently, it's an elementary school, but will merge with (and move to) Portsmouth this coming fall, and will offer the Spanish immersion K-8. I have friends who teach there and my friends with kids who attend and they all LOVE it.

My son (6) went to TIS last summer for a two-week Spanish program, I think the teachers are good language-wise (native speakers, etc) but the overall program is not overly academic? Plus the parking & drop-off situation drove me crazy.

I can second Kaaren's recommendation for Clarendon's dual immersion Spanish program. My son is in the kindergarten program, and he understands everything I say to him in Spanish. The year has prepared him to transfer to an international school when we move to Oaxaca next year.

After visiting a few Spanish Schools in Portland, I was very convinced about sending my kids to Eduplin Spanish Christian School in NW Portland. My kids have been there for 2 years and they are completely bilingual now. They focus a lot on academics. Their curriculum is excellent! Eduplin has a loving, fun and safe environment. They take kids from 18 months to 5 years old. The kids don't need to be potty trainned. I am very happy with the way the teachers teach and love my children.

My son was in the Mandarin Immersion preschool at the International School and had a mediocre experience, the teachers were rigid and kind of cold. Moreover they were not very fluent in English so it was hard to get a feel for what was going on. The Spanish program down the hall seemed a lot more nurturing and playful (and, in my mind, more age-appropriate in its expectations). The International School has now consolidated so all of the younger kids are crowded into a large noisy room with little partitions separating the classrooms. We pulled my son out since it seemed that the move to this environment wouldn't improve the situation.

Another new option in Portland is la scuola Italiana di Portland. My 4 year old daughter loves it. Currently, they're using the classrooms at the International School on the weekends for kids 3-10 (divided into beginner & advanced levels). And there is active discussion going on about having a full-fledged preschool in the fall. It may be an odd choice to choose a language only spoken in one country -- but oh what a fantastic country it is... You can check out La Scuola at: http://www.scuola.us/

If anyone still following this thread knows about the Spanish immersion program at Clarendon-Portsmouth, I'd like to learn about it -- there isn't anything about it on the PPS or school website, does it still exist? I went to the info meeting at Beach last year, is it similar? Thanks.

I know this thread is a little old, but I'm hoping there are still mamas out there checking it out... wasn't sure if I should post on a charter school thread or immersion one. Here's the deal: my husband and I REALLY want our new baby boy to attend French immersion school once he reaches school age, and I'm speaking to him entirely in French from the start in the hopes that he'll be on the bilingual track from the get-go. Our problem: the two French immersion schools in town, which I gather are quite popular, are private and very expensive. While it's a ways down the road, affording a private education would be very difficult for us. My gripe: why are there public and/or charter schools for so many other languages but not for French? There are obviously folks interested in sending their kids to French immersion school since there are two popular private ones--- it's so frustrating that there's not a public, tuition-free option.
Now to my point, inquiry, request-- whatever you want to call it-- are there any other parents out there who would be interested in a charter French immersion option in the metro area? I have my MA in French and teach at the community-college level. I am toying with the idea of launching a charter proposal but would LOVE the help of another mama, papa or teacher out there. With so many school choices in Portland and support for school choice in general, I feel that French-immersion as a free option should fit into the picture. I noticed that someone brought up that German and French are no longer in vogue... I'm not so sure. Sure, they may not be the most "practical" foreign languages anymore, but college French enrollment numbers are up and with Fulton Park's newer French immersion preschool and La Creche immersion daycare option in SE, I tell myself maybe there are other interested parents out there... are there??!

A new email group is forming for people who want to connect with other families whose children are learning French or are already bilingual, and to share information about French language opportunities for kids in Portland. To join the group send an email to Piedmontparent {at} ymail.com, or FrenchforFamilies-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

We recently moved to Woodstock to increase the likelihood of our daughter getting into the Mandarin dual language program at Woodstock Elementary School. (Please keep fingers crossed during kindergarten round-up!) In the meantime, she's now enrolled at Yu Miao Chinese Immersion Preschool for children ages 3-5 in the Woodstock neighborhood of Portland. They have both part-time and full-time programs. While she had a hard time transitioning (about 3 months) from her former preschool to this one, she is picking up the language so quickly and now enjoys school. It is a little more traditional with teachers who are native Chinese speakers, but she has formed close relationships with both teachers and her classmates. Check their site for more information:

Hi I was just wondering which school I should send my kids too. I want them to go to a really good spanish immersion school and was told Alameda was the best..but from research I have done, they dont look like they do that anymore. My husband and I both speak english only, but I am going to college and plan to learn some spanish before my kids start. What is the best spanish immersion school in Portland, Or???

Language programs provide culturally and linguistically diverse students with the benefits of a classical education and also achieve a substantial measure of equity among them. Highly proficient bilingual students generally enjoy certain cognitive advantages, especially in creativity, problem definition, and problem solving. They also may gain an edge in the economic future of this country. It’s a good bet that language programs will provide academic and social advantages over English monolingual programs to the participating GT students who can meet the challenge.

Can anyone offer "cons" to putting your English speaking child in a K-12 Spanish Immersion program?

I have to give a huge plug to the International School here (Pre-K through 5, 100% immersion for Mandarin, Japanese and Spanish). (With regard to the comment above about the preschoolers all being in one large room, that was the case for just one year while an additional building was being constructed; it is not the case now. All the classrooms are individual, peaceful and calm.) At any rate, it is an excellent school, top to bottom. The current head of school, Dr. Orsini, was an inspired choice. He has reinvigorated the school, as has its status as an International Baccalaureate PYP school. The curriculum is fantastic, as is the academic philosophy. This is my daughter's third year there, in the Chinese track, and she loves it. The teachers are incredibly warm and nurturing; they are always down on the child's level physically, greeting them with open arms and big hugs from the moment they enter the classroom. They inspire them to ask their own questions, and then figure out the answers themselves. It's incredible to watch--the children are thinkers, they're engaged, they're creative, they're having fun, being resourceful, learning how to uncover knowledge, and they're being joyful and playful all the while. My daughter is in Kindergarten; earlier this year, I told her I had an email from her teacher that they were going to learn this week about Vincent Van Gogh. She said, "Well, we already learned about Kandinsky!" By the time they're in the fifth grade, they're fluent in their track language, and picking up a third language in after-school programs, if they wish. Fifth-year trip to China, Japan or a Spanish-speaking country. It's incredible. We couldn't be happier with our choice. Please check it out at: www.intlschool.org

Does anyone have any first hand knowledge about the Portland French School? I am considering it in the fall for my soon to be 4 yr old.

For those looking for French, http://www.atlasimmersionacademy.com/ a friend's kid goes here and loves it. I think some of the folks involved are trying to get a charter.

@Monica, the "best" Spanish school would be really hard for any parent to say. It really depends what you are looking for. BTW I think you mean Ainsworth or Atkinson not Alameda.

My 2nd grader is at Beach and we are really happy with it. She loves her teachers, principal is GREAT, PTA is strong, community is super supportive, her Spanish is really good, and the new after school program has amazing offerings for kids PK-8.

I have friends who are at Rigler and love it to. Rigler probably has the largest % of native speakers (Atkinson may be around the same) if that is a consideration.

Has anyone heard of the Spanish immersion pre-school called El Pilar? I'm looking for pros and cons.

I'm also interested in learning more information about El Pilar. I recently took a tour and the director seemed very caring. It was the first pre-school I had looked at, however, and I left feeling poorly informed about schedule, curriculum, etc. since she didn't offer much additional information beyond answering the limited questions I had.

I have sent all 4 of my children through Amiguitos! Preschool, http://www.amiguitos.org/
It is an exceptional program with Native Spanish speakers. It is 100% Spanish immersion which is hard to come by with other programs. The amount of love and caring my children received from the teachers was amazing. It goes from 3 years old through Kindergarten.There are now 2 locations, in Milwaukie and Cedar Hills. If anyone is even considering Spanish immersion for their children, Amiguitos! is a must see.

Any updates on how Atkinson is now? My husband and I are looking at houses and we're focusing on areas where the schools are excellent or where there are language immersion programs. Any thoughts/first hand experience from people in the Atkinson Spanish program would be greatly appreciated - Thanks!

Little Einsteins Spanish Immersion School is AMAZING! My daughter has been there since she was two years old. Check them out:


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