Enriching Your Homeschool

Dual Language Immersion

As the global expanse shrinks with the use of technology, either through the ability to travel to other countries or visit new people ‘face-to-face’ on computers or phones. The barrier of time and distance is dissolving with one remaining hurdle: language. Language is something we all learn; as we grow, we realize learning a language can be more difficult than reciting words.  That’s where Ideal School comes in with dual language immersion. Join Janna as she and Eric Franzen, co-creator of Ideal School discuss dual language immersion and the benefits for your student in learning a second language and creating a community, virtually and in person.

 ABOUT OUR GUEST | Eric Franzen is a proud Washingtonian. A graduate of the University of Washington in Seattle. He also has a postgraduate degree from Seattle Pacific University in education. He holds educational endorsements in English language arts, English as a Second Language, Spanish language arts, and administration. He worked in public education systems for almost 20 years as a para educator, teacher, assistant principal, and principal. He also held district-level responsibilities. Alongside his wife, he created Ideal School in 2018. Ideal School is an internationally-accredited online dual language immersion school (currently serving Kinder to 9th grades for the 2023-2024 school year). Ideal School is accredited by Cognia, the world’s most recognized accreditor, and has agreements with the ministries of education in 87 countries on 6 continents. Cognia supports over 36,000 public and private school systems and schools, and there are more than 25,000,000 students within those schools and school systems. Eric Franzen is very proud of the wonderful professional team that has formed part of this revolutionary and amazing school. We hope that you consider going to www.idealschool.education and learning more about how Ideal School can support your family. We look forward to hearing from you! Here are our social media links…

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/idealschool_edu/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/idealschool.edu

Tik Tok: https://www.tiktok.com/@idealschool_edu?is_from_webapp=1&sender_device=pc

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCindQAIsGoP_Ys3NFwC8BDA?view_as=subscriber

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Podcast Transcript

Janna  00:00 Welcome to Homeschool your way. I'm your host Janna Koch and BookSharks Community Manager. Today I'm joined by Eric Franzen. He is the founder and director of Ideal School. Ideal School is internationally accredited. I want to get all the points here, online dual language immersion school. Now, as a homeschool family, you might be wondering, why is Janna talking about this today? Well, I'm glad you asked. I'm talking about it because Eric’s school is actually a place where homeschooling families can find education alongside what they're already doing. Or if they're looking for something in particular, they have a place for homeschoolers, and Eric is going to talk about the community that he has created in this school. So let me introduce Eric.  

Eric  00:54 Thank you so much, Janna. Really appreciate your opportunity and the invitation today. Um, yeah, this is just a great opportunity for us to talk about who we are. And so thank you. We are a Seattle-based, like you said, internationally accredited, online, dual language immersion school. And we say we have multiple ways that we support families, we have many families who are homeschoolers. And we're grateful for the opportunity. And we are very unique in the sense that our vision was always to connect students from North America to South America and everything in between. And one day hopefully get across the Atlantic, we've had a few families in Europe that hopefully spread across and give students an opportunity to have live dual language immersion interaction with real students and teachers.

 Janna  01:47 So on the surface, I think, as a homeschool parent, my first thought is, how, how does this school want to partner with homeschooling families? So why don't you just jump in and explain how or what your vision is for a family who chooses to homeschool? And yet you're opening your organization and saying, Here's what we can offer you as a homeschool family. 

 Eric  02:11 Well, we teach the basic curriculum basic subjects, right, and we're, this coming school year will begin on September 25. And we are a K-9 school. And every year we've been growing and will continue to grow yearly until we get to K-12. And so for those homeschool families, we have quite a few who are doing something at home, but they would like to have a little support. So we can offer whether it's science and STEM science, technology, engineering, or math, whether it's mathematics, whether it's English, language arts, Spanish language, arts, or history. And obviously, they get more complex as you go up to grade levels. But if a family is looking for support, and when one or more of those areas, we integrate them into our program, where we have students who are doing it full time and doing the full program, but they become part of our family. And regardless if they're just getting support for one class. 

Janna  03:10 So the idea of an online dual language immersion, where did that come from? What was your inspiration? Because I have personally experienced friends who have had children in dual or dual language or immersion classes, but I've never heard of anything where it's been on an online platform.

 Eric  03:29 Yeah, that's a great question. It came from professional experience, I have 20 years of professional experience. I started as a para-educator, as a teacher at the high school level, was an administrator at the elementary level, and also taught dual language at the elementary level. And it came to me as a kind of inspiration through experience where students, I really didn't like without being too negative I didn't like the public system. As a parent, as a worker. I saw it from a child's perspective, I didn't like it. And I also didn't like the online opportunities. And so I thought kind of the American way of why not kind of like the Wright brothers to build the airplane, why not? Why can't you take an online platform and take best teaching practices in a traditional way, brings humanity and, you know, we have three C's that we live by, which we call clarity, consistency, and compassion. Why not use those three C's and connect, you know, a virtual platform and traditional teaching and, my love personally for Latin America, where I've lived, have experience and love Spanish and why not connect South America and North America and in between. So that's where it came from just a belief that it could be done and now this August, we're celebrating five years. So it's a big landmark for us. So it's not only possible but we've actually done it.

 Janna  05:01 Well, congratulations on your first five years. 

 Eric  05:03 Thank you. 

Janna  05:05 Cheers to another five. As a parent whose child is not fluent in any language other than English, and sometimes when I talk to my teenagers, I often wonder if they're even fluent in that there's a language out there that I am not fluent in that my children speak. And I find it frustrating. And then I have to say, oh, my gosh, I'm turning into my parents. But if a family is interested in a program in your program, is it a common misconception that your child has to be fluent in a language before they can start an immersion class?

 Eric  05:40 Yeah, I think it really is, I actually think your families maybe know of the Center for Applied Linguistics, but maybe they don't but CAL for short. But they have a great website, they kind of define a two-way, which is what we are a two-way dual language immersion program. But yeah, there are there's a definite misconception, I find that dual language works for everybody, whether you have special needs, or whether it's a new, new language, we have so many stories, and some of them are on our website. And a lot of families have given us their testimonials. But we have lots of families who started out with no language ability in one way and it brother English or Spanish. And over time, the research shows this is the best method to become bilingual. So it doesn't matter where you come from, we'll take a child in seventh grade that knows no Spanish at all. And you're going to see in that year, you're going to see a year of growth. But if we don't promise magical things, there is work involved in it. But over time research shows it is the best way to help your child be bilingual.

 Janna  06:53 I believe that most homeschool parents would agree with you that like we all have this dream, I think of being bilingual and then passing that on to our children. And then like myself, I get to 45 and go, Oh my gosh, I am still not fluent in a second language, and how can I possibly expect my children to be? What has been your experience with the research that you've done? What are the benefits of this type of learning for students?

 Eric  07:19 Well, you know, if you go to our website at Ideal School, that education, I kind of lay out there's three of them. And I'm going to just go and I'll I don't want to butcher but there are three really essential benefits. And number one, the research shows that there are improved career opportunities. Obviously, in the United States, there's a large population of Spanish-speaking people. And so whether you go into whatever career you go into, you're going to have more career opportunities. The brain, research shows brain development is aided by learning a language. And early graduation shows a two-way dual language immersion program research shows that students are more prepared or better prepared than their monolingual counterparts to be successful at High School and beyond and to graduate earlier. Actually, we didn't have we have a site, I'm sorry, but I just wanted to just like to give one case in our school, a young lady I don't want to say a name. But the mother has said many times, thank you so much for creating Ideal, you saved our daughter, she's actually moved up one grade, she advanced, you know, one whole year, so skipped the whole grade. But thank you so much for creating this because we tried Montessori School, we've tried other things, and Ideal School has allowed our daughter to really flourish and blossom. And it's just one example of many.

 Janna  08:51 I do think that most people would agree that it's, it sounds great. And we have the science to prove that it has added benefits. In your experience. Why do you think that? I would say most Americans are the majority of Americans don't speak a second language. Why? Why would you if I was a family sitting in front of you saying convinced me that, that this is really going to, you know, enhance my child's education?

Eric  09:24 Well, you know, I think I think when I was growing up, you'd have to convince more than you do today. I think it's pretty obvious today, that we're living in a more global and more diverse economy. I think, as a parent myself, that I want opportunities for our children, and I know regardless of where they live, if they can speak read, write, communicate, you know, fluently in Spanish and English, their opportunities are going to be greater. So and when you get to connect with people, it means you're limited to who you can have relationships with and communicate with. If you're only monolingual. And you get to travel, if you're bilingual, you're it's easier to get to know cultures. The one thing about Ideal too, is the cultural aspect that you get you have classmates from other countries, and then you learn about their culture, which is amazing. Like, our son has classmates and from Argentina, the US in between our daughter as well. So they learn about different cultures. So I just think you’re right, I think Americans probably travel less internationally, and they probably many are not bilingual, but I would just simply say to a family like I've laid out there are research shows, it's unequivocal, that you have career opportunities, you have brain development, and you have early graduation and higher success in college and beyond. That's what I would say, I would point to the research, not what I think anecdotally because I'm no expert, but I just know the research. And anyone can go to the Center for Applied Linguistics and learn.

 Janna  11:10 So again, because I homeschool, and I was homeschooled, I did not do second language as a homeschooler. Back in the 90s. I'm not sure that a lot of that was available back then. So when my daughter's got to be of high school age, I outsourced and said, Okay, you guys are going to learn a second language, we're one of them chose Spanish. And she did the most, she did one year of it, and couldn't speak a lick of it, didn't understand any of it. And I thought this is the traditional model. And it's not working for anybody. My husband will tell you he did four years of Spanish in high school, he can't speak a lick of it. I mean, that's pretty much like I do these, informal surveys all the time because I'm always fascinated that I don't have a second language. And so I but I wasn't given the opportunity. So I look at these people who've been given a traditional opportunity. And nobody can speak a second language, no matter how long they took the classes.

 Eric  12:03 It's yeah, and you know, I would say to you, I had two years of Spanish in high school, I think and honestly, at the end of it, I could probably say bicicleta. And that was it. I didn't understand anything, I really didn't, it was a complete mystery. And it has exactly what you're saying it has to do with the model that's used. You cannot and I can tell you from a professional having taught Spanish at the high school level, using the traditional model. Yeah, it doesn't, it doesn't work. It doesn't because you can't teach Spanish using English. And vice versa. In foreign countries, you can't teach English teaching, teaching it through Spanish. But that's the traditional model, it doesn't work. It's not effective. That what we do Dual language immersion simply means that we use the target language, we use engaging material, we use interactive encounters with teachers and with students, and we work in pairs and groups. And we use that L2 or that second language as a target language. And we have that again, with what was ideal, we have a 50/50 model. So we have tried to have a 50/50, where we have a certain quantity of students who are native Spanish speakers and a certain quantity of English native speakers so they can help one another to get in breakout rooms are small groups, and they help one another and they support each other. But they are encouraged to speak that L2, that second language.

Dual Language ImmersionDual Language Immersion

Janna  13:22 Now have you seen in your modeling, like you were referencing the native speakers on both sides, that's fascinating to me, because typically in a traditional model, you have a teacher who may be it's their first language, but I would say the majority, it's the second language that they've learned. So now you have a native speaker who is coming alongside appear. And then they can ask those questions like, you know, how do you say this? Or am I saying it in the right way? Or they can laugh. Like I've had so many foreign exchange friends and I laugh at them right and say no, you don't ticklish me you are ticklish. Or I'm tickling you, right? So like, it's in the moment. It's those teachable moments as opposed to someone standing there saying you're repeating it and you're writing it down, but it's not the same interaction.

 Eric  14:12 No, no, it's not, and again, in a traditional model there in dual language traditional model, you would have a mix of native Spanish speakers and native English speakers. But you don't get the culture you don't get that you don't really get the diversity like we do. I mean literally, we have students 7000 miles away down by the Patagonia all the way up here. You've had families up to Kennedy you don't really have that and it's an amazing process and definitely there's no doubt about it. We've had families who stayed with us now going on for years and since the very beginning. And the progress is undeniable. You know, families now pay a year in advance the whole year, where at first, of course, they’re trepidatious, like investigating and asking questions, but then at the end, they're not even thinking. They're like, Oh, yeah, for next year. Yeah, give me the bill. I'm happy. You know, we're happy with the idea of our daughters improved. Our son has improved. It's amazing. You know?

 Janna  15:19 And you mentioned, the community that you guys are building? Can you just kind of touch on that a little bit? Like, yes, we're learning about different cultures, because we have students from different places. But what do you guys do intentionally to help create that community inside your school? 

 Eric  15:34 Yeah. Actually today, we, every week, or every month, I should say, every month, we have a commute, what we call a community advisory committee, made up of parents and staff and myself, and we are driving the mission and vision of the school. And so parents actually have a voice. And what we're doing students are, we have every, we have a social group for each of the classes, so they can just hang out and talk and interact and socialize in a safe way. We do art classes, and that's it, that's not an additional cost. We have a professional artist who teaches, and kids get to interact and have fun doing that. Next year, we are working on a pilot program for a music program, which is going to be performance-based where our goal is to actually have you know, produced pieces that can be shared, sold, and downloaded. And actually, it's a family, a parent who's a music director at a university. And so we're, we have a saxophonist who's gonna be a world-class saxophonist who's gonna be our coordinator. And so again, these are we're building these little communities through art, through music, through social groups through parent, you know, committees. So I hope that answers, but those are some of the things we're doing.

 Janna  17:03 It does. It does now. Pardon my ignorance, but are musical notes international?

 Eric  17:10 Yeah, for sure. It's a different language. And I say, and I, I think, again, like, language, learning, music is so beneficial for the brain. And so we want to pilot a program, and then we want to show everybody how fantastic this is, and then make it part of an integrated part of the school year for everybody.

Janna  17:32 Yeah, yeah. Well, I think it's, I think it's amazing, finding these different avenues that we as humans can connect, regardless of our culture, or our native language, or any of those things, I think anyway that we can show how we're more alike than we're different, is beneficial to our future in our children's future for sure.

 Eric  17:53 Absolutely.

Janna  17:56 Well, what about a homeschool hack for our listeners, what's a hack or an educational hack that you have that could benefit like, hey, this was great, thanks for the information, but you're gonna blow their socks off with like, this groundbreaking idea that some little thing that they could be doing at home in their home school or, or life that is, could be life-changing.

 Eric  18:21 Um, you know, I don't, I'm not gonna give anything too profound, I could just say, from my perspective, as a parent, I think it's so important that you help your child to develop their talents and find those talents. I'll just give an example of our son who just turned nine. We, we've given him opportunities, to learn instruments that he's interested in, not the one that his dad loves, his dad loves the piano, and he now has come to like the piano, but yeah, we give them opportunities to explore that. And then art gives them opportunities so they can go and develop those skills. And then it's really important to spend time with your children to read and let them read. And I don't care how old they are. I think it's especially in a bilingual household or trying to be bilingual. You want to sit down to listen and give them opportunities to find literature that they're interested in and listen to them and encourage them and give lots of praise. So I don't have a lot of super-secret anything but this is what's worked for us and then again, if you want to be bilingual, it's really important that you try to speak the language and so families you know, it's something that families and something that we supported as well at Ideal we've had classes for parents. So if you're enrolled in Ideal and a parent wants to learn Spanish, then we definitely will be there to help support you with that and parent groups.

 Janna  19:57 Well, I love that as not only an educator, a creator, a director, but as a father who has children going through the program, you can see the benefits, but also keep the goal in mind. I think so many times new curricula come up, or people have these great ideas. And then they kind of morph into something they were never meant to be. And I think as a home educator, as a parent, I always have a little bit more trust in things that are also parent-led because you know that the heart behind it is really to benefit children.

 Eric  20:34 It is, you know, Ideal is I think I love what I love most about it is it's organically grown within. So our program, our music program, our STEM program, they've all come from within from parents, you know, and when we meet every month like I said, our community advisory committee, it's there's a parent that really cares, and they're not there because they have to be there. They're not there for like a school board meeting where they're listening to a superintendent talk and talk. No, it's actually conversations that we have, and the community family feels that we have tried to foster and create here.

Janna  21:15 Well, it's always a little bit better to know the people that are selling you the product, or also the people that are using the product.

 Eric  21:22 What was that funny commercial back in the 90s? It was a Rogaine commercial or something. I don't know. Like, hey, I'm not I'm not just the founder most 

 Janna  21:29 Oh, that's right. That's right. Yeah. That whole little rhythm of it. I remembered I could see the commercial in my head. But it is true. I mean, you and I both know that that is true, right? When you can see that. It's in your home and you're in you're living it and you're not just trying to peddle something.  

Eric  21:47 Yeah, no, it's not peddling them at all. No, not at all. This was like, as this was very much American, kind of like that great American spirit of, you know, just grit and hard work and vision and coming through experiences that I had. And then not just me, it's not I don't say it's, I honestly think our team does the best that you could find anywhere, whether it's teachers, or our admissions counselors, our marketing people, or they're all just great people. And it's because we all have a pure heart driven to serve. And that's why I try to think of ourselves as servant leaders. And so we're able to connect with great people. And no, it's not it's not a this was this was created before COVID, COVID helped to open up Latin Americans eyes, you know, to the possibilities of online learning. And then they continue, you know, COVID in a lot of ways people think that that's gone away, and not, you know, a factor, but they continue to be with us because they see the value, and will continue to find more. And we are excited that 2023 will be a breakout year, guaranteed for Ideal with all the efforts and with connecting with people like you. And I really mean that.

 Janna  22:55 Here, can you just briefly share what you guys are doing in South America? Because not only are you creating connections within your communities, but then within students in those communities, but what are you guys like on the ground doing in South America?

 Eric  23:12 Yeah, that's a great question. Well, we currently are supporting a school in the island country of Aruba we've been doing it now will be going on this August, September will be four years that they educate refugees, or they support refugees from Venezuela and other countries. And we've been supporting them in an asynchronous program. So where they have the ground-level people to support the children, we supply the curriculum, we supply the testing, we supply the support to the teachers. So we're doing that for that group. We also have a really exciting program in Venezuela, that we're collaborating with a school well, we're actually going to be teaching where we are actually going to be teaching it through our virtual platform, teaching conversational English to a school of about 250 students in Venezuela starting in September. And we have put out grants US grants in Guatemala and in Peru. You never know how that works out. But I lived in Guatemala, I would like what I do in school to get to a level where we are actually on our own ground and actually providing free education. That's world-class, great education, traditional education for the really poorest in Guatemala, and maybe one day, you know, expand it, you know, not looking for anything other than a ground for us to use for training for teachers that want to work at Ideal, but to give great education for the poorest that you can imagine in Latin America.

 Janna  24:53 Well, I think with a mission like that, it's hard to deny that you're the things that you are doing not only for American students connecting with Latin American students but what you're doing to improve the lives of children in South America, I think is phenomenal. So, so thank you, for building into our global community in that way. Before we go, Eric, do you have anything else that you want to share with our audience?

Eric  25:21 Um, you know, I would just say anyone that's interested, we have a great team that is here to answer any of your questions. We do live open houses that are free, on Fridays and Saturdays. We have set times and schedules, but if you want to visit us at our website, are also Instagram and Facebook and TikTok, we're all developing that and we're here to help your family we have multiple ways that we can help and look forward to talking to anybody that's interested, if you've just curious, come in and take a look. And you might even get me when he calls up, I answer phones as well. So happy to talk about what we're creating. It's a community, it's not a business, it's a community. Like you said, Janna, I really like that. It is a community and we want it to be really global. Because there is another way to do education, and I respect homeschooling families very much. It's kind of difficult to do it on your own, and we're here to help in any way we can.

 Janna  26:24 Well, all of Ideal School’s information will be in the show notes. So if you want to look further into what they offer, you'll be able to click on those links and in our show notes, both on the podcast and on the video a. Eric, thank you so much for being here. Thank you for what you guys are doing and the community that you're building. 

Eric  26:40 Thank you, guys. 

Janna  26:43 Until next time, bye-bye.

Free Samples of Literature-based curriculumFree Samples of Literature-based curriculum