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Busting Myths About Spanish Immersion

St. Louis Park Public Schools is working to increase the diversity of the student body at Park Spanish Immersion (PSI) by simplifying the admissions process and shifting enrollment priorities. The application for the incoming Kindergarten class at PSI is open until 4pm on February 12, 2024, and can be completed during kindergarten enrollment.  Families will be notified of their kindergarten placement in March.

Park Spanish Immersion Admissions Policy

The St. Louis Park Public Schools Board on Jan. 23 voted to make changes to the Park Spanish Immersion admissions policy, making it more clear and accessible. The updated policy gives priority to enrolling siblings of currently enrolled students, students whose applications are related to an approved integration and achievement plan, children of the school district’s staff, and students who are native Spanish speakers. Additionally, the district gives priority to St. Louis Park residents. The changes also include removing priority for students who qualify for free and reduced lunch, both because all students now have access to free lunch, but also because this part of the application process has been a barrier in the past and most of those seats have not been utilized in the past. 

We understand that some multilingual families, especially native Spanish speakers, believe that Spanish immersion isn't beneficial for their students. We’re busting these myths!

View the approved policy

Myth #1: Students only learn Spanish so they won’t develop English skills.

Not true! The goal of Spanish immersion is to acquire a high level of proficiency in Spanish while also developing a strong foundation in English. In addition to Spanish and English language skills, students gain an understanding and appreciation of Spanish and Spanish speakers and their varied cultures.

Myth #2: The Spanish Immersion program doesn’t have English support like the other elementary schools.

False! While students at PSI are primarily instructed in Spanish, the school offers English classes and programming to support students whose home language is not English. By the end of elementary school, PSI 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.

Myth #3: Spanish immersion stunts growth for students who are English learners.

Nope! Research consistently finds that the immersion experience enhances English language development. 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. An initial lag is temporary and to be expected, but students soon soar.

Myth #4: Native Spanish speakers shouldn’t be in Spanish Immersion.

Absolutely false! A Spanish immersion program is an excellent choice for Native Spanish speakers and new-to-country Spanish-speaking students. On top of the academic benefits we listed before, PSI provides an opportunity for students to strengthen their proficiency in their native language, ensuring they maintain their linguistic heritage. It also helps students become bilingual and bicultural, allowing them to navigate seamlessly between two cultures and opening up broader career prospects in an increasingly globalized world. We also believe it’s important for our native Spanish-speaking students to foster a sense of pride in their cultural identity and heritage.

Myth #5: Spanish Immersion is only for students who already speak Spanish.

This is not true! Spanish immersion programs are designed to accommodate students with varying levels of Spanish proficiency. While native Spanish speakers can certainly benefit from the program, it is equally open and beneficial to non-Spanish-speaking students. In fact, PSI enrolls students with no prior knowledge of Spanish. PSI provides a supportive and immersive environment where students can learn and excel in both Spanish and English, regardless of their initial language skills.