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A stateside kid going to a bilingual school

 
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boomerexpat



Joined: 15 Apr 2012
Posts: 129
Location: Mexico

PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:52 pm    Post subject: A stateside kid going to a bilingual school Reply with quote

Plan is now to move to Mexico with my son this Spring. He is 15, is extremely bright but with ADHD, and speaks some Spanish from studying it for 2.5 years. He is great with languages and knows to one degree or another four of them.

However, I want to make sure this is a great experience for him and none of the schools that I've found in the target towns are English only. At best half and half. I'm in China now where I can get him into an English only one but he would much prefer to be in Mexico.

Do you think with a Spanish tutor, it is reasonable to expect a 15 year old to suddenly start taking half his classes in Spanish and be OK? I know in the long run he wold be but this may only be a for a semester? He is not a super achiever who will achieve come what might.

In one school the English classes are English, World Studies and Literature. In the other schools, they are English, Math and Science.

My guess is that it is better for him to take things like Literature in English and Math and Science in Spanish.

Your thoughts?
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notamiss



Joined: 20 Jun 2007
Posts: 861
Location: El 5o pino del DF

PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 4:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don’t think any of us can tell you how your son, in particular, will react to the new environment and the challenge of a new language. But in general, it is doable.

When my daughter was 16, she took part in an exchange and went to France for 3 months, attending a local high school and doing all her subjects in French during that period.

Her only French background was a few years of early immersion back in primary school, and then a summer of intensive French classes just before the exchange. Her classmates had even less, since they didn’t share the early immersion experience, only the summer classes. They all did ok.
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MotherF



Joined: 07 Jun 2010
Posts: 1120
Location: 17°48'N 97°46'W

PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Every year thousands of teenagers participate in exchange student programs. They basically get dropped in to a foriegn language environment with very little support. They go into it with a variety of levels of compentancy in the local language and they almost all come out of the experience fluent after one school year.
They may stagnant in their other learning because they basically drop all that in favor of learning the language. One of the contributing factors to the idea that children learn languages faster than adults is that children basically drop what they are doing and focus entirely on the language in an immersion situation, while adults continue to have a lot of life responsibilities during immersion. A 15 year old's brain is not as flexible as a 5 year olds, but it is still a lot more flexible than a 30 year olds.

Don't worry too much about this aspect of your son's education--gains in his Spanish fluency will be so great that they will more than justify any temporary setbacks in his development in other areas.
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boomerexpat



Joined: 15 Apr 2012
Posts: 129
Location: Mexico

PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MotherF

Thanks for the feedback. By the way, have you ever known a kid who took one of those all day tests in English and Spanish that the bilingual schools require? I am concerned he won't do well enough on the Spanish part and I can't get a clear picture from them how much is in Spanish. (The school has no other foreign students.) I'm not clear how much this test is a formality and how much it is a test to see if the student knows enough Spanish (as well as the subject matter) to do well in the school.

Also, I can't get details from the schools but apparently there is an office I have to go to in DF even though I'll be in Puebla where I take all his transcripts and get them reviewed and a decision about what is transferable and what level he should be in. All of which seems to be at odds with the whole day testing.
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noble



Joined: 12 Sep 2012
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:09 pm    Post subject: A stateside kid going to a bilingual school Reply with quote

Be ready for them to put him back a year--not an uncommon practice.
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MotherF



Joined: 07 Jun 2010
Posts: 1120
Location: 17°48'N 97°46'W

PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OR forward a year.
My children would be in second grade if they were in the US, but in Mexico they are in 3rd. The cut off date is Dec. 31st. rather than sometime in the late summer like it is in much of the US.


This is the most important question. Are you considering the possibility that your son might stay through graduation in Mexico and therefore really need official papers?

If the answer is no, then I would not bother with "the office in Mexico city" and having his transcripts transferred. I would try to get the school to take him on a more informal basis as they would a temporary exchange student.

Of course the flip side of this is when your son goes back to the US, would he go back to the same school district he is currently in, and what sort of documenation will they want him to show when he returns.

Also--I know this is personal--but are you the sole legal gardian, and if not, what does his other parent have to say about all this?

Does your son hope to attend university? Has he thought about where?
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boomerexpat



Joined: 15 Apr 2012
Posts: 129
Location: Mexico

PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My son's mother is having a lot of trouble with him and admittedly really doesn't care that much what happens school wise with him as long as he is out of her hair.

She has finally acknowledged what schools have always pointed out - he is much better behaved when staying with me.

He wants to go to uni in the US. For that matter, he would prefer to go to high school in the US but understands that with the difference in relationships he has with the two parents that staying with me this semester at least makes sense.
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MotherF



Joined: 07 Jun 2010
Posts: 1120
Location: 17°48'N 97°46'W

PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay.

My kids are still much younger, but I've known some expat kids and if you plan to go to college in the US, then it's a million times easier if you have graduated from a US high school. Not impossible if you haven't but the difference is big enough that they either move back for the senior year, send the kid home to live with family or to a US boarding school for senior year, or recently there is a new option, enroll in an US based online school.
While there are a lot of disadvantages to an online high school, it might be interesting to explore that option and combine it with enrolling your son in a Spanish medium school. He'd learn Spanish and Mexican culture and customs in the local school and you could not worry about grades or paperwork and he'd keep up with his US peers in the online school. Mexican high school students attend school from 8 to 1.
Another advantage of this is that private high schools in Mexico are notorios for behavioral problems. They seem to be populated with snotty rich kids who see the teachers as their personal staff and administrators who are more worried about the parents pulling the kid out and losing a source of income than in educating youth. Public high schools tend to have much fewer problems with behavoir for two reasons. First, it is not obligatory education so a lot of the kids that might be problems are simply not in school anymore. And second, any kid who does cause problems just gets expelled because their physical presence does not affect the finances of the administrators.
Now, if you are set on this school that wants his US transcripts validated--we have a poster who doesn't visit us anymore called Phredy if you send him a message he might respond. He is a dual national and had that done with his US university transcripts and all I know was it wasn't easy and it took months, so that might keep your son out of school if the school requires it.
I also wouldn't worry too much about an enterance exam--if the school has spaces and you have money then he's in.
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