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Homework in an Immersion Classroom:
Parental Friend or Foe?
The ACIE Newsletter, December 1999, Vol. 3, No. 1
Adapted from materials developed by Lezley Lewis, Jacksonville Independent School District, Jacksonville, Texas
HOMEWORK IS NEVER NEW LEARNING
The intent of homework is to provide the practice to strengthen and reinforce the learning begun in the classroom. In an immersion classroom, homework provides an excellent opportunity for the parent to support and participate in the second language acquisition process.
Myth # 1 - "My child doesn't understand what the homework says." The child understands the cognitive concept but is working through the transfer process. If she is not proficient in reading or completing the homework, that doesn't mean that she doesn't understand. Be sure your child has the cognitive understanding of the concept in the first language.
Myth #2 - "Having homework assigned in the second language is too hard. We are expecting too much from this child." Homework, in any language, is an extension of what the child has learned in class. If he understands the concepts, then the issue is how to appropriately transfer the knowledge. It isn't about unrealistic expectations, it is about using information and knowledge at an early age. Keep in mind that the child has learned the concepts in the second language. Having homework in the second language is important to the immersion experience.
Myth #3 - "Don't worry about [the target language]. Just translate everything." Translating is a tool. If you begin with the translation, then the ability of the student to use all her tools/strategies for learning is circumvented. Besides, translation is difficult - languages don't function on the basis of word-to-word correspondences.
APPROPRIATE PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT
The process of learning through a second language is challenging and can sometimes be frustrating. But the benefits and rewards are very real! Creating a learning environment at home where homework acts as friend instead of foe is an integral part of the process.