Frequently Asked Questions
Welcome to Park Spanish Immersion Elementary School! Park Spanish Immersion Elementary School (PSI) is one of four excellent public elementary schools in the St. Louis Park School District. Enrolling in PSI is an option you may consider for your Kindergarten student. Language immersion offers a unique and innovative educational opportunity. Below are some frequently asked questions (FAQ) about PSI and immersion education.
I am a St. Louis Park resident, how do I enroll my child for kindergarten?
If you live within the St. Louis Park Public Schools' boundary, and have a child who will be five years old on or before September 1 of this year, you will receive a mailing in mid-January with information about our school, and a resident application form. Completed applications are due to the District Office by dates designated on the District website and in the City-School Calendar. If more applications are received than spots available, the district holds a lottery based on School Board Policy 545. The lottery is conducted by the District prior to kindergarten registration, and families are notified of the results by mail. Historically, there has been a lottery every year.
If you are relatively new to St. Louis Park, you may wish to contact the Enrollment Center at: email@example.com to ensure you are in the district’s database, so that you receive all school district mailings/information.
Each year, PSI holds an Immersion Information Night for families interested in learning more about immersion education in St. Louis Park. Please check the District website and/or the City-School Calendar for dates and times.
I am NOT a St. Louis Park resident, how do I apply for enrollment for kindergarten?
Non-residents of St. Louis Park need to contact the Enrollment Center at the District Office for an Open Enrollment Application. Completing an application does not guarantee enrollment to PSI. You may reach the Enrollment Center by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 952-928-6023.
Open Enrollment Applications for Kindergarten are due to the District Office in January of each school year. Please check the District website and/or City-School Calendar for specific dates.
How do I transfer my student into Park Spanish Immersion Elementary School?
Lateral entry (Transfer Enrollment) occurs as a seat becomes available in a given grade level. Please note, that the kindergarten waitlist carries over into first grade, so those wanting to transfer their child into grade 1, (unless you are already on the waitlist), will be placed at the end of the waitlist. St. Louis Park residents have priority when filling open spots per the school board's PSI Admissions Policy.
You may call the school office (952-928-6555) if you have questions and/or to receive a Transfer Enrollment Request Form. You may complete, then fax or scan the form, and return it to us. We will keep your form on file. Two waitlists will be established (SLP resident and out-of-district). Families will be contacted as space becomes available in the grade level you are interested in, contacting residents first, then out-of-district families.
If an opening becomes available after Kindergarten, students and their families will meet with PSI staff members to assess the student’s Spanish language proficiency, answer questions, and to ensure the student’s success at PSI.
Is there a tuition fee to attend Park Spanish Immersion Elementary School?
No. PSI is a public school.
Does PSI have all-day kindergarten?
Yes. All kindergarten sections in St. Louis Park are all day.
What are the long-term goals of students in a Spanish immersion program?
We work together to help students: Master elementary subjects. Acquire a high level of proficiency in Spanish. Gain an understanding and appreciation of Spanish and Spanish speakers and their varied cultures. Develop a strong foundation in English.
What is Park Spanish Immersion Elementary School?
At Park Spanish Immersion Elementary School, students are immersed in the Spanish language while they learn reading, writing, mathematics, science, social studies and other subject areas. The curricular content and outcomes are aligned with the districts’s other elementary schools. However, students at PSI learn through the Spanish language rather than English. Park Spanish Immersion Elementary School began in 1996 with two kindergarten classrooms. We are currently an elementary school serving students in Kindergarten through fifth grades.
Is language immersion a new concept?
No. Immersion has been used in Canada since the 1960’s and in the United States since the early 1970’s. Immersion schools in the United States have gained popularity as an effective method of language and content learning. In reality the immersion concept has been around for thousands of years since it is the way all of us learn our native language. In immersion, language learning is done in such a natural way that students are comfortable with the instruction. Children are excellent mimics. They are eager, curious and less self-conscious that adults in experimenting with and acquiring new languages.
Is a background in Spanish needed?
No. The majority of our students do not speak Spanish before beginning Kindergarten. Teachers use instructional techniques, which help students understand what is being taught, and they consider this fact when they communicate with parents and assign homework.
How do children learn English?
In the Spanish classroom setting, starting on the first day of kindergarten, all instruction is in Spanish. Students may use English initially, but their classroom teachers respond in Spanish. As students become more accustomed to hearing and understanding the Spanish language, they are encouraged to express themselves in Spanish. Starting in second grade, students begin formal English classes to work on comprehension, spelling, and grammar. In third grade, reading strategies are strengthened. Students work on spelling rules, parts of speech and some basic writing skills. The amount of English language arts instruction increases at fourth and fifth grade. The English teachers work in tandem with the Spanish classroom teachers to plan together to help students in both languages. Our students have the same English language outcomes as the students in the other three St. Louis Park elementary schools. At every grade level, daily reading, in both English and Spanish, is essential for the child’s language development. We also have other English classes to support our learners. English reading intervention is offered for students needing additional support, English Language Learner classes are offered for students whose home language is not English.
What level of proficiency in Spanish will students have by the end of elementary school?
The goal is for students to speak Spanish fluently. They will also have strong enough reading, writing and listening skills to master the core academic subjects in Spanish.
Are PSI staff members native Spanish speakers?
Some are native speakers, although this in not a requirement. Teachers must have a Minnesota elementary teaching license and be highly proficient in Spanish. PSI teachers have traveled or lived abroad and have an excellent understanding of other cultures and the value of global education. In addition to the licensed teachers, we are fortunate to have Spanish speaking classroom interns and classroom assistants working in our classrooms. The classroom interns live with our families during their semester or year-long assignments and are completely supported by our Parent Teacher Organization.
How will learning content in Spanish affect my child’s English language literacy?
Research consistently finds that the immersion experience actually enhances English language development (Cloud, Genesee, & Hamayan, 2000). During the first few years of the immersion program, students’ English development may lag temporarily in reading and English language skills. However, by the end of elementary school this discrepancy disappears and immersion students tend to perform as well or better than their monolingual peers. It is important to remember that the initial lag is temporary and to be expected.
What role do parents play in our school?
A firm commitment is essential for children to experience the great benefits an immersion education yields. Parents support their children in many varied ways by: Making a long-term commitment to immersion. Developing an understanding of immersion education. Providing experiences outside of school to develop English language skills. Encouraging the use of Spanish outside of school through daily reading. Supporting daily attendance Park Spanish Immersion School has a strong and active Parent Teacher Organization (PTO). Many volunteer opportunities exist in the school to help support our learners.