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Immersion Summer School - What do you think?

Original post made by Carol Rogers, Palo Verde, on Jan 10, 2007

Now that there is some talk going on at the District level about summer school and language immersion possibilities, I wonder what the community thinks?

Possibly due to my suggestion both by email to the Board and the submission to the Board back in December, there is mention of Mandarin Immersion (and perhaps Spanish) as a summer school option. I would really be interested to see how others think of the idea.

Growing up in England and Ireland, there were several different types of programmes that offered a language immersion summer experience. These ranged from residential to all day programmes where instruction was given at the early part of the day, and traditional summer fun followed for the remainder of the day in the target language. I myself never actually attended these programmes, but I had friends who did and it really improved their language skills. They made new friends who they always spoke to as a matter of course in that particular language and their understanding of the language became intuitive rather than academic. It is from this that I think it could work here. A program from 8.00 a.m. to 6.00p.m. following this scheme with both classroom time and structure fun as well as free time over a period of weeks during the summer, could help a child get a fundamental basic language experience which would last beyond their school career into adult life.

I await to hear your thoughts.

Comments (16)

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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jan 10, 2007 at 11:02 am

I think they sound wonderful and I would love to put my kids into them. Any chance for French or Russian?

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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 10, 2007 at 3:26 pm

I think a summer immersion program would be great. It sounds like it would be self-supporting, which means it could also be flexible--Mandarin, Spanish, French, Japanese, Korean, German, Arabic, Hebrew. I'd like to see these programs developed for younger children though--there's a window of opportunity in language learning that occurs before the age of 9.

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Posted by Jonny
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 10, 2007 at 9:52 pm

There is a school located in Palo Alto that offers a summer immersion program in French, Mandarin or Spanish for younger aged children. It's similar to what OhlonePar describes (studies in the morning and fun summer activities in the afternoon).

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Posted by curious
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 10, 2007 at 11:12 pm

Hi Jonny -- what is the name of this school?

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Posted by never tried it myself
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 10, 2007 at 11:56 pm

International School of the Peninsula (right next to the main post office):
Web Link

Summer camp immersion options for pre-school - grade 8:
Web Link

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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 11, 2007 at 2:18 pm

My issue with the summer-school immersion programs at ISP are that they're relatively short for the expense. I think they shouldn't be shorter than six weeks.

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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 19, 2007 at 11:41 pm

My Palo Alto mortgage and the International School tuition don't mix, I'm afraid.

The great thing about immersion summer programs is that they could be added sooner than a new school year immersion program, they don't face the same facilities problems, and we could add many languages instead of just one.

So now I am wondering how I and other interested parents can be involved in strategic planning so that great ideas now don't lead to debacles in the future -- so that this idea (and all others) are worked on as part of the bigger picture?

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Posted by Pauline
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Jan 20, 2007 at 11:50 am

I have been thinking about this since it came up, trying to sort out my ideas.

I think I have finally come down on the side of supporting a 4 hour per day foreign language immersion program through the PAUSD summer school program, supplemented by those of us who can afford to pay the tuition, and "granted in" for those who can't afford it but want it.

That is as far as I have gotten in my thoughts. There is a lot to think about with it. For example, anyone who does it, should they be required to continue that foreign language during the year to not lose the benefit? If so, how do we make sure we have the program available to everyone who needs it in the school year? If, for example, we offer it after 5th grade, we need to assure that all 6th graders have access to that language.

The reason I like the idea is from my own personal experience of sending my son to a 4 hour per day class for 5 weeks over the summer..which resulted in him gaining at least a full year in language skills at his high school ( so he skipped his second year and went to the 3rd year level). I didn't think that little would do so much for him, but he was then able to more or less converse with me and manage himself in another country for a week.

So, I am coming down on the side of supporting it in order to further the idea of foreign language for all to our district.

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Posted by What's good for the goose
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2007 at 1:52 pm


You have not been listening to the board. Our district is stressed out, and we cannot afford to spend any time or money on this kind of project until our house is in order. We need to complete planning for increased enrollment, the five-year plan, attendance areas, roll back the cuts made prior to Prop. A, and then initiate a plan for world languages before we can even begin thinking about this kind of summer school program.

Once that is finished, the summer school program should be considered along with every other item on our wish list to see if it fits within our priorities. After all, bread-and-butter subjects like science and math are more important than elite, private-school offerings like this.

If your suggestion makes it that far, then the district should undertake a study. But since the entire program MUST be cost-neutral, somebody will have to pony up for the study. (This will automatically make it suspect.)

The study needs to look at whether having an attractive summer-school immersion program will make Palo Alto so attractive that families will move here. The program will have to somehow reimburse the district for attracting these children. The study will also examine whether it is possible to guarantee that the racial and economic composition of the summer school will match the entire district. Last, this suspect study will need to decide whether a program that will benefit only an elite few fits our notion of fairness.

Of course, the program will have to be run based on tuition and not take a penny from the school budget. That means it will have to cover district overhead, air conditioning, and wear and tear on the carpets.

So, let's get back to basics: we need to plan and think this through before we can indulge the starry-eyed dreams of a vocal, monied minority. If the board decides, judiciously, to nix this idea, these parents can always send their kids to private school. Gail Price did research and found that these families have enough money to pay for it.

I'm sure that you, Pauline, of all people will see the sense of all this.

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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 20, 2007 at 3:39 pm

Immersion summer school *was* endorsed by a majority of the board. It doesn't have the space problem that the MI program has. It's flexible (unlike a school-year program.)

The tuition can be adjusted to make it cost-neutral--I think air-conditioning's a non-issue.

One of the board members did express some concern about how an immersion program would be integrated with the school-year curriculum, but I think that's workable. Even an afterschool program would help with retention.

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Posted by Get over It
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2007 at 2:04 pm

What's Good for the goose
Are you ever going to be able to get over your sour grapes at not getting exactly what you wanted when you wanted it? I think it's a given that anything Pauline has mentioned will have to be part of a strategic plan. Are you just bitter that her proposal is so much more workable and doesn't require new facilities and could offer immersion sooner, in many languages?

I can't even begin to say how disappointed I am at how the people who supported MI are behaving. Grow up and get over it. You can wallow in bitterness, or pick up and learn from what has happened, and do what is necessary to get language immersion for PAUSD. If that means working with former opponents of what you wanted and getting summer immersion, because it's cheaper, easier, and has fewer hurdles and less opposition (and will probably fit more easily into the broader strategic plan), are you going to help realize it because you value language instruction or are you just going to keep making pot shots to sink any other efforts because you didn't get exactly what you wanted?

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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 21, 2007 at 2:07 pm

I find it really ironic -- given that one of the most important reasons for learning language is DIPLOMACY -- how unwilling those who wanted this MI plan are to engage in it.

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Posted by NIMBY
a resident of Nixon School
on Jan 21, 2007 at 5:00 pm

Good for the goose is simply showing the complete lack of understanding that s/he has about the differences between what we are talking about here ( a program for all that doesn't displace anyone or hamstring the district), and MI as envisioned.

S/he is also showing a complete lack of understanding that if and when we get to the point of actually implementing what we are starting to see envisioned here, that it will be within a well-planned out manner that is accepted by most Palo Altans, perhaps even voted in as a special tax if Palo Altans believe we are ready for this..who knows?.

It will be interesting to see who fights this. I can't have everything for my kid so I don't want all the kids to have something?

Or, does somebody lose business somewhere if MI doesn't go through? I was always told, follow the money.

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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 22, 2007 at 1:17 pm


I've considered the money thing myself. If MI goes through the private immersion schools will lose students--presumably some will shift over. On the other hand, I'd expect real-estate prices to climb some more, particularly in the area near the school. You can see the influence of Hoover on homes near it--there was a 3/1, 1069 sf, average lot, that went for 1.2 mill. Agents have told me that recent immigrants, particularly from Asia, will pay a lot for the local school "brand"--Hoover/Gunn's pretty much the gold standard for a lot of them. I'm sure an MI program would have a similar appeal.

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Posted by What's good for the goose
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2007 at 5:38 pm

Ooo, ooo, ooo, gander doesn't like the rules he laid down for the goose, huh? That's an angry gander. Stewed in hypocrisy.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 23, 2007 at 1:30 pm

Good for the Goose - Please tell us where/when the board gave a list of particular conditions needed to be met before a SUMMER school program could be considered?

You listed the following conditions prior to consideration of summer school programs. I've never heard the board mention a single one of these. In fact, I believe the board said in the 1/9 meeting they do not have to approve particular summer school classes. (They probably will not even vote on the second recommendation.)

Your List (conditions before considering a summer school class:)
1)complete planning for increased enrollment,
2)complete the five-year plan,
3)complete attendance areas,
4)roll back the cuts made prior to Prop. A,
5)initiate a plan for world languages
6) Once these are finished the summer school program should be considered along with every other item on our wish list to see if it fits within our priorities.
7)Then the district should undertake a study (paid for by somebody)
8)Program can not attract summer school attendees from out of area
9)Summer school program must be racially econcomically representative of district overall.
10) Summer school will be run based on Tuition to cover all costs, including overhead.

Good for the Goose -
First of all - I think it may be YOU who have not been listening to the board - I never heard them give this, or any, list of conditions for a summer school class offering.

(With the exception of #10 - which is absolutely correct, for summer school programs - they must be cost neutral, covered by tuition costs.)

These are conditions for permanent installation of Alternative Choice programs. By the way, the BOARD hasn't been quoting many of these as conditions. Various community members have been supporters of several of these as conditions prior to installation of new choice programs. Most are directly from the Alternative/Choice guidelines, and several of them are logical interpretations of the choice guidelines as they relate to fit with district strategies and priorities.

I believe anybody could suggest a summer school program on any subject, and if the district had space, had someone qualified and interested in developing it and teaching it, had enough demand to cover fully loaded costs through tuition, then I think its just a matter of working directly with the summer school administrators to get it started. I've never heard of a district policy to have the board manage summer school curriculum in that way.

Have you? When? Where?

Personally, I wouldn't choose an MI program in any form for my kids. I'd rather spend our family's limited summer school dollars on other electives, like swimming lessons or cooking class.

Franky, it would come down to demand, and I bet it wouldn't support itself.

I don't get your good for the goose argument here. If someone were proposing another Alternative/Choice program, then you'd be right on, and I'd agree with your whole post, they'd have the same hurdles that the board set for MI.

In the context of alternative choice programs, I particularly agree with your final statement:

"So, let's get back to basics: we need to plan and think this through before we can indulge the starry-eyed dreams of a vocal, monied minority. If the board decides, judiciously, to nix this idea, these parents can always send their kids to private school."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

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