My daughter (4 yrs 10 months) is bilingual (Japanese,English) and will be starting kindergarten next year. We currently live in the U.S.; her English is capable, but still fragmented and below her peers' level.

I have my eye on a French immersion school because their educational ratings are well above other schools in the area. My wife is still ambivalent about what school to choose, so she was talking with my daughter's preschool teacher about it, and the teacher recommended a standard school that has better than average educational ratings.

The preschool teacher's thinking is that because my daughter's English level is lacking, a standard school would help her catch up in her language skills and that an immersion school might slow her down. My thinking was that at an immersion school, everybody would be starting from the same level, so her English would be less of a hindrance in learning, and as an extension, it would also be less imperative for her to reach the level of her peers - she could learn at her own pace.

  • 2
    I think this question will be hard to answer, as it isn't really about which school will be better for your daughter, but rather about what you want your daughter to learn. Once you can answer that question, it'll be a lot easier for us to advise. Also, have you also spoken to a teacher from the French immersion school? Would be interesting to hear their take on your situation. Commented Oct 7, 2014 at 14:57
  • When you say a "French immersion school" do you mean a school for native French-speakers who will receive immersive education in English, or a school for native English-speakers who will receive immersive education in French?
    – Air
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 19:12
  • 1
    @Air the latter. We split the difference and went w/ a chinese immersion school ;)
    – coburne
    Commented May 9, 2016 at 19:40
  • Thanks for clarifying. If you arrive at any insights along the way, consider writing them up in a self-answer for those who come after you. :)
    – Air
    Commented May 9, 2016 at 19:47

3 Answers 3


Unless your daughter is learning disabled, all children have very good (mind bogglingly fantastic) language acquisitions skills-- in particular they can learn a language by mere exposure, which doesn't work for adults. Adults can be said to have a knack for picking up a 2nd or 3rd language-- usually not, adults study for years and still are incompetent--, but the ability for children to pickup additional languages appears to only be limited by time-- a child needs to get about 15 hours of exposure per week to learn a language well. Below that, and it will be their 2nd best language, or a language that they later stop using (especially if they don't have any peers that use that language).

I would recommend choosing a language learning plan based on what is going to be useful for them going forward and which language environment you can sustain exposure for over the long run.

Learning disabilities, speech impediments, etc can happen among bilingual children, but people should be slow to rush to call a 2nd best language something that requires medical attention. I, personally, would be concerned if your daughter exhibited the same problems across all her languages-- if she speaks one language well, then this isn't something that a speech pathologist can treat. I speak Russian like someone with a mental disability, but its because I'm lazy about reviewing my flash cards, not because I am mentally disabled.

Ref: books on amazon, Raising a Bilingual Child


Well if you want your daughter to accelerate her english and an immersion school would help her learn at her own pace isn't that by definition the incorrect choice?

If you want her to catch up in English then I do think a great standard school would work, you could also get her to a speech therapist.

I am not sure what a French immersion school is, were you also going to teach her french?

If she is going to stay long term in the US then public school route, if she is going to go between the US and Japan then you can go with the immersion school because she can go at her own pace. Just my 2 cents.


English will come if she's living in the United States. She hears it everywhere, she'll be speaking it with most of the people she interacts with. You couldn't stop that if you tried. If you think knowing a second language would be good for her, how else will it happen for her?

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