Konnichiwa-Learning A New Language In Fairfax County Schools

TV ImageWhen I was in elementary school in Fairfax County (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth) a decision was made to pull a few of us out of class and sit us in front of a TV to learn French.   The program only lasted for half a year but today the only French I even remotely know came from sitting in front of that TV.

Today in Fairfax County parents have the option of enrolling their elementary schools students in a half day language immersion program.  Unlike when I was in school or even when my kids were in Fairfax County Schools students are not taught just the language at their chosen school but are actually taught all of the regular academic subjects in a second language.   Currently the language immersion program is offered twelve different elementary schools throughout the county with a choice of four languages.

Research has proven that early exposure to a second language leads to a much better chance that the language will be retained and used later in life.  When I lived in Japan the neighborhood children where I lived used to stop by after school so that we could all practice our language skills.  It was an amusing sight to see, me trying to learn Japanese and the kids practicing English.  I guarantee that they now speak much better English due to their young age than I ever did Japanese.  Foreign Language sign

The programs offered in Fairfax County elementary schools today include German, Spanish, Japanese and French.  When a student finishes sixth grade they have the option to continue studying their chosen language in a more traditional format in intermediate and high school.   In addition to the partial immersion elementary school program the county also is offering a Two Way Kindergarten Immersion Program.  Different from the half day program this program features a 50/50 split of students sharing and learning new language skills.  Half of the students in the class are native Spanish speakers and half of the students are native English speakers.  Instruction and interaction is in both languages to develop bi-lingual skills in both groups of native speakers.

For more information on these Fairfax County School programs you can check out the Fairfax County School website.  It is up to each parent to decide whether these programs are right for their children.  It is just one of the reasons that Fairfax County Schools are always given high ratings and Virginia Schools have been rated # 5 in the nation.


*This post is not an endorsement of any program or suggestion to enroll your student in any program or school.  You should always check the schools in the area you are interested in buying through either the county website or other school resource sites for more detailed information.

©2008. All Rights Reserved. Cindy Jones

Cindy Jones

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Comment balloon 13 commentsCindy Jones • January 28 2008 05:55PM


CINDY - This is excellent information about the Fairfax School District.  There is a school district on Long Island that is very progressive with foreign language study as well.  Thanks for sharing this.
Posted by Adam Waldman, Realtor - Long Island (Westcott Group Real Estate Company) over 11 years ago
Excellent information, Cindy.  We had a French immersion program in our local elementary school under the former principal, but I don't know if they still have it.  Again, you've inspired me - I'll have to  find out.
Posted by Margaret Woda, Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.) over 11 years ago

That is a wonderful program!  You can't teach an old dog new tricks (I want to learn another language!)

Kids can learn so much quicker!

Posted by James Downing - Metro DC Houses Team REALTORS®, CRS, GRI, ABR,MRP, MilRes, When Looking to Buy or Sell - Make the Right Move (Real Living | At Home) over 11 years ago
This sounds like a great program.  It certainly makes sense for students to learn multiple languages in today's global economy.  I know that here in Washington Wenatchee School District has an excellent multi-lingual program focused on Spanish.
Posted by Jonathan Sprouffske (Connolly Tacon & Meserve) over 11 years ago

I wish our schools around here offered as much as they do in the fairfax area. Also wanted to thank you for commenting on our seer post over the weekend. Much appreciated.


Posted by Gary Bolen, CRS - Lake Tahoe Real Estate Information (McCall Realty) over 11 years ago
Gary-we are very fortunate to have an excellent school system in our area.  Good choices of schools and programs. 
Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 11 years ago
O Genke desu ka? Watakshi wa nomae wa, Rich Jacobson desu.
Posted by Rich Jacobson, Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker (Fathom Realty West Sound) over 11 years ago

Cindy, offering different languages while children are young is a wonderful program. You certainly are very fortunate to have such great schools. Unfortunately all states/cities don't. Could it be location?


Posted by Mesa, Arizona Real Estate Mesa Arizona Realtor, AzLadyInRed (Homes Arizona Real Estate LLC) over 11 years ago
Cindy, with so many top-ranked schools, the Fairfax County system is really second to none.  My wife and I were just discussing the language immersion program the other night because she recently got hired to teach ballroom dance at Claremont Immersion Elementary School in Arlington.  She'll be teaching in English, even though she is also fluent in Spanish.
Posted by Brian Block, Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance, Managing Broker/Branch Vice President) over 11 years ago
Great information for localism and sounds like a great program, My wife grew up in Italy until the age of 12 and still speaks great Italian.  The best age to teach a second language.
Posted by Joey Remondino, Broker, GRI, E-Pro (RE/MAX Preferred Properties) over 11 years ago


This a great article for localism and is the type of thing people moving to your area are interested in. I used to live next door to you in Lake Ridge, VA (Prince William, County).

Keep up the good work. 

Dave Tipton

Posted by David Tipton, GRI, ePro, SRES, Real Estate Broker - Tampa (Grady David Tipton Brokerage) over 11 years ago


I was born and raised in Fairfax County and before moving three years ago to Charleston, SC, lived in Prince William County.  My daughter went to Henderson Elementary in Montclair.  They offered the FLIP program in Spanish, and she did very well through first and second grade.  We moved to another school in PW County, and they did not offer the FLIP program for 3rd thru 5th.  I was disappointed.  While it was a great school, I wish we would not have moved her, because she has pretty much forgotten all she had learned because lack of repetition.  While she was at Henderson, there was talk of removing the program as children transferring into the school in later grades could not participate, and being such a transient area, those transferring out, were less likely to have their spot filled by an incoming student.  The debate was over whether or not it was good use of tax dollars to keep the program. I have not followed to see what, if anything, has happened, but I sure hope it is still in place.  My daughter is getting ready to go into 9th grade next year and Spanish will be a struggle.  Hindsight is always 20/20!


Thanks for sharing! 


Posted by Tammy Trenholm, Associate Broker - Real Estate Agent (Redfin Corporation) over 11 years ago
Awesome!!  It's about time the US started to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of languages.  Indeed the earlier the better.  It does seem a little odd for me to read this though because most of my pre-college years were in schools where numerous languages were spoken.  
Posted by Tchaka Owen (Galleria International Realty) over 11 years ago

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