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I Sent My Kids To A Bilingual Immersion School And They Learned Much More Than A Second Language

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Born and raised in California with roots that reach into Mexico, my world has always been bicultural. I am now raising my own multicultural children in California. I write to know what I think and I am thrilled to be able to share those thoughts with you here.

I live in San Francisco, California, and sending your child to a public school here works a little differently than in other places.

You don’t just get assigned to your nearest neighborhood school; instead, you fill out a form with your top school choices out of around 70-ish public elementary schools in the city and hope you get assigned to one of those choices. The number of possible choices would have overwhelmed me had I not been dead set on sending my kids to a public elementary school with a Spanish/English dual-language immersion program.

Since I absolutely knew that I wanted my children to attend an elementary school with a Spanish/English dual-language immersion (DLI) program, my choice of schools went from 70-ish elementary schools to nine.


I filled out the required paperwork, mailed it to the powers that be, and crossed my fingers that we would get our top choice. It worked out for both of my daughters.

Why I Was Dead Set on a Bilingual Education

To be honest, the initial reasons that I wanted my children to get a bilingual education were very personal and had nothing to do with the greater good, so to speak. They had to do with how I was raised. I was born in the United States and raised by my mother, an immigrant from Mexico. My first language was Spanish. I learned English informally from society at large and formally at school.

kids running to school

To this day, I am fluent in Spanish — even though most of my interactions happen in English — because I was immersed in the language at a young age. It was the only language I spoke at home and with my extended family when I was a child. I cannot provide that same kind of language immersion for my children because their father does not speak Spanish and we don’t live near my Spanish-speaking relatives.

Raising bilingual children wasn’t even really a choice for me because being bilingual and bicultural has been one of the greatest blessings of my life, and I want my children to be blessed as well. But I knew that the blessing of bilingualism wasn’t something I could bestow on them by myself; I would need the help of a Spanish-speaking village in the guise of a DLI program to help me.

 

What Is a Dual-Language Immersion Program?

girls in school

The goal of a dual-language immersion program is bilingualism. Other single-language immersion programs will immerse you in only one language. For example, an English-language immersion program would be taught in English and English only, whereas a dual-language program teaches you in two target languages.

teacher in classroom

The Spanish/English dual-immersion language education programs in San Francisco start in kindergarten, where the kids receive 80% of their instruction in Spanish and 20% of their instruction in English. As they progress through grade levels, the percentage of English goes up until they are getting 50% of their instruction in English and the other 50% in Spanish.

 

diverse kids in class

Ideally, for this type of instruction to work well, students begin in kindergarten with a class that is made up of one-third native Spanish speakers, one-third native English speakers, and one-third Spanish/English bilingual students. This mix of language abilities goes a long way in helping everyone learn both languages, because students aren’t just relying on the teacher for help. The monolingual kids can be helped by the kids who are already bilingual, and as they all start to get better in both languages, they can all help each other.

 

What I Knew My Kids Would Get From a Dual-Language Immersion Program

What I Knew My Kids Would Get From a Dual-Language Immersion Program

Of course, I knew my kids would become proficient in two languages if they were enrolled in a DLI program — that was obvious. My hope was that my kids would benefit from a truly bilingual education by being able to read, write, and do the whole arithmetic thing in English and Spanish with equal ease. This was important to me because I was never educated in Spanish, and even though I speak and read in Spanish, I don’t know how to use accents correctly when writing in Spanish — that makes me bilingual but not biliterate. I want my kids to be biliterate.

What I Didn’t Know My Kids and I Would Get Out of a Dual-Immersion Program

kids learning about mexican culture

Remember how I said that being bilingual and bicultural has given me all kinds of gifts that I would like my kids to benefit from as well? OK, so I knew I would need help on the language front, and that’s why I was determined that they get a bilingual education. What I didn’t realize because I myself never had a formal bilingual education is that a DLI program also gives you a cultural education that you wouldn’t get in a traditional classroom. It’s amazing. They are learning about histories and traditions that I can’t teach them because I never learned about them myself.

 

kids music class

“Through language, they’re learning culture, and they’re learning about various people groups of that language,” says Sharon Huang, founder of HudsonWay Immersion School, a Spanish and Mandarin full-immersion school that has campuses in New Jersey and Manhattan. “As they learn the language and the culture, they are developing the skills of empathy of looking at things from different perspectives and allowing themselves to really experience that culture.”

What I Know Now About Dual-Immersion Language Programs

girl painted hands

My initial reasons for wanting my kids to go to a bilingual immersion school were personal and for their own good. What I didn’t realize is that by giving them a bilingual education, I would also be giving them a multicultural education that is for the good of all.

What Makes This Kind Of Knowledge Good For All Of Us?

kids blowing bubbles

Children who learn about other cultures, develop respect and empathy for different perspectives. They understand that not everyone experiences the world in the same way. These children will then hopefully grow up to be the kind of people who fight against injustice, intolerance, and discrimination. Look around, those are exactly the kind of people the world needs most.

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What Is ‘(Un)well’ Essential Oils Advocate Dr. Zielinski Doing Now?

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Netflix has become a go-to source for bingeable docuseries’, and the latest release from the streaming service focuses on trends in wellness. (Un)Well is a six episode series about the various treatments, fads, and potential cures that are gaining traction — from the usage of essential oils, to the benefits of breast milk, to whether or not extreme fasting is beneficial. 

Dr. Zielinski is one of the professionals shown in the first episode, which centers around essential oils and aromatherapy. 

Who is Dr. Z from ‘(Un)Well’?

While the beginning of Episode 1, which is aptly entitled “Essential Oils,” focused on using the liquids for healing in hospitals, Dr. Eric Zielinski (aka Dr. Z) has a different approach. The Kennesaw, Ga. based chiropractor and entrepreneur offers a masterclass and books through his website, NaturalLivingFamily.com. According to Dr. Z, the lessons, which users pay for, provide insight into how the oils work and what they can be used for. The most expensive online class is $77. 

Per the blog’s website, Dr. Z believes that people can achieve “true Biblical health” by focusing on seven specific areas in life. These include “spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, financial, occupational, and social” health.

He said that he and his wife Sabrina Zielinski, who also goes by Mama Z, have made seven figures from their business. 

Dr. Z said that he began to benefit from essential oils after struggling with depression and addiction issues in his teens and early twenties.

“When I was just about 23 years old, I had a spiritual revelation … I became a Christian,” he said. “Within a moment, the addiction, the depression, the anxiety, the suicidal thoughts all went away … I’m a living miracle.”  

Source: Netflix

While turning to religion helped Dr. Z with his mental health, he said that his physical ailments were persisting. That’s when he turned to essential oils, and he’s been using them in his life for nearly 20 years. 

“We use essential oils throughout the day. It’s just happiness in a bottle,” Eric said on (Un)Well. “It’s just become a culture that we’ve created here.”

On the show, Dr. Z discussed how he used oils on his young children, Esther, Isaiah, Elijah, and Bella. The family has diffusers, which pump oils throughout the house, and they have integrated them into their soaps, lotions, and food.

While people have said that it can be dangerous to ingest essential oils, Dr. Z said that he doesn’t believe that to be true. Other experts featured on the series disagreed with Dr. Z’s sentiments. 

Where is Dr. Zielinski from ‘(Un)Well’ now?

Following his appearance on the docuseries, Dr. Z is still operating his website and blog. His official Facebook page has more than 213,000 followers. He often posts about home remedies for various seasonal ailments and life stressors, in addition to Biblical verses. 

unwellnetflixessentialoils-1597264417337.png
Source: Netflix

His most recent posts have clarified that he is “pro-choice” regarding mask wearing for the coronavirus pandemic, and “that the solutions for 99% of all health issues can be found in nature and can be remedied by lifestyle choices: diet, exercise, stress management, prayer/meditation, using natural therapies like essential oils.” 

Though users cannot buy essential oils directly from Dr. Z’s website, he does provide instructions on how to mix them through his books and on his site. 

(Un)Well is available to stream on Netflix now. 

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Louise Kiely explains the importance of believability in casting ‘Normal People’ stars Daisy Edgar-Jones, Paul Mescal [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

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“It was more important that the right actor embody Connell, rather than lots of days on set and their experience,” explains Louise Kiely about casting Paul Mescal in “Normal People.” Mescal is now nominated at the Emmys for Best Movie/Limited Actor for his television debut; Kiely is also celebrating her first nomination, in the Best Movie/Limited Casting category. The casting director laughs as she begins to explain what they were looking for in the role of Connell Waldron, “You could say ‘football skills’ and that stuff that’s at the end of your CV, but being completely honest, it was much more about believability in the early years and talent in order to follow their arc and stick with them and believe them throughout.”

“It was much more to do with the desires and the wants and the needs of the two characters and the difficulties within those characters,” continues Kiely, referencing Mescal’s co-lead Daisy Edgar-Jones, who played Marianne Sheridan. She adds, “It’s hard to speak about one and not the other, but what they were able to inhabit and project therefore was all of those detailed nuances — and also, the arc!” Kiely notes that she sought actors who could portray the emotional and physical growth over the years that are depicted on screen and were originally described in the novel of the same name. The Hulu miniseries was co-adapted by author Sally Rooney, but the casting process began in advance of scripts being completed. Kiely explains, “They were being written, but we worked off the book at the early stages.”

Make your predictions at Gold Derby now. Download our free and easy app for Apple/iPhone devices or Android (Google Play) to compete against legions of other fans plus our experts and editors for best prediction accuracy scores. See our latest prediction champs. Can you top our esteemed leaderboards next? Always remember to keep your predictions updated because they impact our latest racetrack odds, which terrify Hollywood chiefs and stars. Don’t miss the fun. Speak up and share your huffy opinions in our famous forums where 5,000 showbiz leaders lurk every day to track latest awards buzz. Everybody wants to know: What do you think? Who do you predict and why?

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Project Power: What Are All the Characters’ Powers?

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If you could take a pill that gave you powers for five minutes, but you couldn’t choose the powers, would you? That’s the question people find themselves asking in Netflix’s Project Power, only the result doesn’t always work out in their favor. Ex-soldier Art (Jamie Foxx) teams up with teenage dealer Robin (Dominique Fishback) and local cop Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in the hopes of finding his daughter, who’s been taken by evil corporation Teleios.

To get her back, the group has to go up against these power-fueled individuals and discover their own powers along the way. In a speech to potential investors, Biggie (Rodrigo Santoro) explains that the powers are all derived from animals in some way, shape, or form, like the lizard that is able to heal and whose power is seen being used by one of Biggie’s henchmen. Ahead, we’ve broken down everything from Newt’s (Machine Gun Kelly) ability to thermoregulate on demand to the not-so-great power of self-destruction.

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