La Piccola Scuola Italiana di San Francisco

Italian Immersion

At LPSI children play and learn in Italian. The Italian language is fully integrated in the curriculum with songs, story telling, games, Italian lunch cooked on site and projects. Teachers will only use English when a child that is not fluent in Italian is distressed or in case of emergency.

Children at LPSI

All teachers are Italian or have native-like fluency.

LPSI is a language immersion program. According to Francois Thibaut, founder of the Language Workshop for Children, in a full foreign language immersion program, children have an opportunity to pro-actively use and rehearse foreign language in a challenging, intimate, emotionally supportive environment that stimulates all their senses.

The newborn's brain is genetically "programmed" to learn language: no one actually teaches a child to talk. Rather, parents and caregivers enable language learning by speaking and interacting with the child. Research has also shown that early exposure to a second language actually causes more neural connections to form in a child's brain, also improving language skills in the first language. Statistically, children who study a second language score higher on verbal standardized tests conducted in English, according to the College Entrance Examination Board. Language students also perform better in math and logic skills than children with just one language. There is also some evidence that foreign language students are more creative and better at solving complex problems.

Research has shown that a translation or grammar based curriculum is more appropriate for the adult learner so it is not used at LPSI.

Children do not need to know Italian to enroll at LPSI, but parents are encouraged to expose them to the Italian language at home through songs and books. If there is an Italian speaking parent in the household we strongly encourage you to only use Italian with your child, even if your child responds to you in English. This is called receptive bilingualism (when the child understands but does not speak) and it is the first step to full bilingualism. We strive to have a minimum of 70% of children who have Italian at home in the classroom to promote Italian language acquisition.