Escuela Bilingüe Internacional (EBI)Community Subscriber
We were lucky enough to start at EBI in pre-K (Amarillo - the youngest class) in the middle of the 2016-17 year when we moved to the Bay Area from NYC. This is our first fall start and we're very pleased with the choice we made. Spanish immersion was our top priority - we're a bilingual home and our son has spoken Spanish at home since birth. While language immersion is at the foundation of what EBI does, so is a deeply engaging, inquiry based teaching style, based on the the IB (PYP for smaller kids). Our teacher last year and this are masters at what they do - the kind of early childhood educators who command a class with warmth, a gently firm hand, and a broad range of engagement techniques to meet every child. We've also watched young people who have graduated from EBI go on and thrive in high school. Though the school is only 10 years old, they've created an place where students are intellectually engaged and truly community minded.
In addition to the classroom experience, I have to say that the community has been extraordinarily welcoming. As family that was new to the area we definitely worried about our son having friends and knowing other parents. He -and we- were immediately included in birthday parties and playdates. Folks reached out to ensure that the "new kid" was at ease. I'm not a person who wants to be so immersed in my son's activities that there's no line between home and school, but I have found such a down-to-earth group of parents that I'm glad to be a part of what's going on at EBI.
I'm hoping that folks who are interested in prioritizing Spanish will apply and join this amazing community. Please feel free to reach out to me with questions!
Escuela Bilingüe Internacional is known for integrating new kids warmly. The school is open to all levels of Spanish learners. There are two tracks, one for the already bilingual students, and another track to learn Spanish. There are also many classes in English. Though Spanish fluency is important to me, the International Baccalaureate program is really the most astounding part of the school for its depth and support of deep learning.
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Archived Q&A and Reviews
I was drawn to EBI for Spanish immersion alone and also because we thought our bright, spirited, anxious kid needed a smaller environment than public school could offer. He has become such a confident boy and has received an incredible amount of nurturing and care at EBI. I think he would do well in public school now but we are staying (and putting his brother there as well) because I love the parent community. Academics are a priority for us and I feel like he is learning concepts in a much deeper way than I did as a child. He truly loves it, he is valued for his differences/quirks, and is thriving and learning. What more could a parent ask for? EBI mom Ipark98
I've seen a handful of sensitive, active, bright kids do well at Escuela Bilingue Internacional. One of the factors that has kept my smartie pants kids doing well at EBI is the variety of teachers each child has; not only is there a primary teacher for various subjects in Spanish, each class also has an English teacher as well as awesome music teachers, an art teacher, and PE. Kids don't sit in one classroom all day long. Also, the learning specialist shares tools for wiggly kids with ALL children, so even undiagnosed kids can use a heavy lap pad or fidget toys. An excellent ratio of teachers and assistant teachers to kids makes for an environment with a ton of support. This year's three kindergarten classes, for example, have 17 kids per class, which is incredible for kids who need a little extra academic challenge and also for language acquisition in Spanish or English. My children are very engaged in the classroom and supported by a warm bunch of teachers and staff. There are tours open in December and January to see for yourself. good school is essential
Re: Kindergarten openings in private schools?
Escuela Bilingue Internacionale added a 3rd class of Kindergarten to the roster for next year due to the ongoing HUGE demand for high quality spanish immersion elementary school options.
I think there may be a couple spots available. You should call the school and ask for Liza the admissions director.
Our family entered with a kindergartener with very little previous Spanish language knowledge, and she's fluent now! It's been AMAZING to watch her learn to read, write, and speak about all the things kindergarteners want to express themselves about - in BOTH English and Spanish.
We love the school tremendously and are so happy there. EBI mama
Recommendations for Spanish immersion preschool
I'm seeking recommendations for a Spanish immersion preschool that's on the more affordable side, preferably in Oakland. I know about La Plazita and some of the other ones like KISS and Monte Tavor (the last is out of our price range), but I want to make sure I'm not missing some good ones. The recommendations on the BPN Reviews page aren't that current. Thanks! Rebecca
Definitely check out EBI. They have a fully-flying PK-8th grade program and offer financial aid. we have two kids there and really value the diversity of families that exists there. Definitely more variations in family types than what we would have found in our neighborhood Oakland Hills school. Good Luck! EBI mama
Escuela Bilingue International (EBI) on Alcatraz has a Spanish immersion pre-school. Tuition is a not a small commitment, but EBI has an aggressive tuition adjustment program where tuition is adjusted to each family's financial resources. Having a community with mix of socio-economic incomes is a clear priority. My kids have been happy in the school and both love language. J M
Deciding between EB and EBI
We plan to enroll our child in a language school this fall and are deciding between EB and EBI. I wonder if other families are in the same boat or were in past years, and would like to hear about your decision process.
For us, we love nearly everything about the French school (EB) except that the language is French(!), which is terribly impractical. The only other niggle is that the music program does not start until 2nd grade (WHY?!). But we love the 30 year track record of the school, the class size, the weekly garden program, the emphasis on cooking, and poetry and most of all, the international community. Every parent we met thusfar, we have liked and clicked with. The school seems well-organized and the admission process has been smooth. The new campus improvements coming this summer will be the icing on the cake. We are torn with the value of French in California, however.
On the other hand, EBI is Spanish - very useful and practical! But the school is new and the admissions process wasn't organized (very hard to get a phone call back) and we are worried that this might reflect the administration as a whole (although realize it may not). We have met almost no parents and have no sense of the community (again, the fault of admissions, not of the parents). The Alcatraz campus is not great: there is NO green space, no garden program and the kids have to eat lunch at their desks. The music room is literally a closet. On the other hand, they have a great music program!! The teachers seem warm and caring, the IB program is strong and class size is good.
We wonder if it is better to go with an established organized program in an impractical language, vs a new, potentially disorganized one with a big upside, the practical language, but is also more of a gamble... Thoughts? Feedback? Thank you! Nervous about our upcoming decision
I would choose EBI. We looked at both schools last year and it broke my heart to turn down EBI's offer for our kid's spot when we decided our financials could not bear it and we went with public school (but happy enough with our school now). We felt pretty welcome and solid in the admissions process and I was impressed with how many parent volunteers were available to prospective parents.... so I can't relate to your feeling of being lost or ignored. Also we have a friend at EBI who had commented that it's stable now (but was not when it 1st opened).
We did not have complaints about the EB process but agree with your notion that French (while an important world language) is impractical in California when you look at demographics. I hope you can find the school that really suits what you really want! Oakland mom
I'm an EBI parent and felt compelled to respond to this post. Clearly this parent is torn between two potential schools and is in need of prioritizing what characteristics and qualities are most important to her and her family in choosing a school.
For my family, education including teacher quality, the values of a school and the community were most important. And these things led us hands down and unequivocally to EBI.
First, education. IB-focused learning and bilingualism aligned with what we were looking for. Added to that and most important really are the teachers. It didn't take much for us to see and experience the amazing care and guidance EBI teachers bring every day. I'm glad this person saw and gave credit to the teachers. I know that I'm thankful every day knowing that I leave my son in the trust of these wonderful educators who shape a love of learning and teach to each child!
Second, the values of a school. It's important, especially for private school, to connect and agree with a school's values and mission. This should be a large factor in a decision and I'm not sure this prospective parent is considering how this relates to her family. Anyone can learn more about EBI's mission and values on its web site: http://www.ebinternacional.org/ and through any admissions discussion with the school.
Third and finally, community. EBI has community coming out of its pores so I'm not sure why this parent wasn't able to connect or see that. Maybe it's not the community for her. My family felt it immediately when walking the halls and talking to staff and existing parents. I still feel it every time I'm in the building (and P.S. I love the Alcatraz building maybe because it reminds me of my own elementary school). Many parents (myself included) volunteer at admissions events to make themselves available for prospective parents. We do this because we believe in the school and its community. The EBI community is strong and very active because everyone is like-minded around the mission of the school. Parents form friendships based on meeting at the school, having like-minded ideas, and because of their kids of course.
I'm not here to defend every point this post outlines. There's no reason for that -- a visit to the school speaks for itself at least in my experience over 5 years. But I do want to say a word about the music room comment. Yes, it may be small but ask the kids about music. My son says it's "fun" and the "room doesn't matter"! Go to the school's holiday concert or other music programs and see it for yourself. EBI kids are fortunate to have amazing music teachers, scheduled time for music learning, and music education that connects to the rest of the curriculum. Have you ever seen 20 6 year olds making music in unison i with voice and instruments in their non-native language to boot? It happens here and it's magic. Is the size of a single room a deciding factor really?
In sum, every parent makes tough decisions about what school is going to be right for their kids and their family. Make sure you're formulating a decision based on what's most important and make sure you give those factors an honest look. Then and only then, decide and don't look back! Stacy
We are new to EBI this year for Kindergarten and have found the administration to be very well organized and accessible. The whole community is very warm and welcoming. I find that people go out of their way to say hello and meet new families. My kindergartner had minimal Spanish when she started and didn't know anyone at the school. She made new friends the first day of school. We feel very fortunate to be a part of EBI. Love EBI
[Editor Note] reviews were also received for Escuela Bilingue Internacional
EBI vs public Spanish immersion schools?
Hi - I'd love to hear any parents' thoughts about Escuela Bilingue Internacional vs any of the public immersion spanish schools in Berkeley or Oakland? We're looking at both options for next year, and I'm wondering if EBI is worth the extra money? Thanks! anon
We did the same thing! We looked at the public school options, and THEN at EBI. One big factor for us (non Spanish speakers) was that all the staff at EBI speak Spanish. The realization was: the public school immersion program has students only speak Spanish when they are in class. The cafeteria, library, recess, music, etc are all in English. For us, real full immersion meant increased vocabulary, more confidence and more opportunities to speak Spanish with those around them. The second reason for EBI was the IB (international baccalaureate) program. While I think we are raising pretty tolerant, respectful and open minded children, the IB program promotes social/emotional awareness as well as team work, inquiry, and research skills. It was such a great combination of skills that I didn't see in the public schools. Yes - it's a stretch to pay the tuition, but my kids literally come home and want to do *more* research on the subjects they study at school, they create their own group projects, and have a student led assembly every week. All in all - we're broke, but happy AND bilingual PS Did I mention they introduce Mandarin to all students from 3rd - 8th grades, four days a week? Trilingual! Happy parent
Hi-I can't speak about public Spanish immersion options, but I've been a parent at EBI for 5 years. I now have two children at the school and they are thriving. The Spanish and the school's diversity are what initially attracted us to the school. What has kept us there, even with the cost of tuition, is the International Baccalaureate (IB) program and the incredibly warm community. My children are now both fluent in Spanish and my older child started learning Mandarin last year, which will continue through 8th grade. I love the mission of the school and really couldn't be happier! EBI Parent
Our children were part of TWI classrooms in BUSD and then transferred to EBI (the Emeryville campus), so I can speak to both options. Is EBI worth the extra money? I would say a qualified yes.
The benefits of EBI are considerable:
1) I think the Spanish language instruction is stronger than in the public schools. I believe this even though my kids had some excellent teachers in BUSD and were learning a good amount of Spanish. Nevertheless, the attention to speaking and practicing Spanish is more consistent at EBI. Especially in the upper grades, where BUSD appropriately begins to shift toward a greater emphasis on the mastery of English, EBI continues to give equal weight to speaking and writing in Spanish and English.
2) The EBI kid community is close-knit and accepting. I feel like my children have close friends, but are also exceptionally friendly with almost everyone in their class. Admittedly, the close-knit feel was also true of the TWI program, but EBI feels more accepting of difference. In particular, my sweet, bright son has thrived at EBI after struggling somewhat with friendships at his public school. Some of that is luck of the draw, but I think EBI works very hard to create a sense of camaraderie, openness, and fair play among its students. The kids have different assigned tasks every week and my favorite is the ''harmonizer,'' a student who is asked to help other kids resolve their differences.
3) The international baccalaureate curriculum at EBI is great. When my kids study a topic, the school finds ways to integrate that learning across the disciplines -- math, music, poetry, science, everything. It doesn't feel like they are learning information in silos, but really trying to think about issues in a multi-dimensional way. This aspect of EBI feels very different from public school. At EBI, a lot of families come for the Spanish -- and stay for the IB curriculum.
4) Taking Chinese four days a week as been a huge bonus of the EBI program. While their Mandarin is minimal compared to their Spanish language abilities, it has been terrific to listen to my kids practice a new language and to show off by reading Chinese characters. They are proud to be learning a third language.
Drawbacks to EBI:
1) Tuition! We are solidly middle class by Berkeley standards (no big house, no overseas trips, lots of shopping at thrift stores) and we don't qualify for financial aid for our two kids. Also, tuition went up just over 9% for next year.
2) More vacation days. BUSD kids are in school more. EBI starts after Labor Day and has more full week breaks during the year. Though the school offers camps on site, we don't have the extra money and figuring out what to do with our kids during these weeks is a challenge for our family.
3) Though my kids didn't enjoy riding the bus to public school, I found it very convenient. The 30 minutes that it took for the kids to get to school and back every day was also a daycare bonus. Now, we drive to and from Emeryville every day.
4) In addition to paying tuition, after school care is far more expensive at EBI than at BUSD. I would say the quality is about the same.
Here's my kids' point of view:
''I like them in different ways, '' says my daughter. ''I like the teachers at both, but I liked the playground better at the public school. I like how EBI is smaller and easier to manage and I really like learning Mandarin.''
''I liked the big field and playground at public school,'' says my son. ''But I like all the different kinds of balls you can use during recess at EBI. Also, I really like that it's not just the teachers who choose everything at EBI; I help chose what to do and what's going to happen. I like a lot of stuff, but what I like best is that everybody is nicer to me at EBI. I like my friends.'' Berkeley mom
Hi - Our family has been part of Escuela Bilingue Internacional (EBI) for almost 6 years and I cannot say enough about the community we have found there. Our daughter is thriving (fluent in Spanish, English, now taking conversational Mandarin and soaking in the world like a sponge by virtue of the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum) - but as much, my husband and I enjoy being a part of this diverse and interesting group of parents. We have made some of our closest friends within this populace. There are coordinated parents nights out in addition to a variety of social events, a strong parents association and a committed diversity group at which we can explore complex social issues relevant not only to our children but to us as well. Opportunities to take on roles within this community abound, and can be found no matter what one's level of availability. Parents may be from very different backgrounds, but in my experience these variances are seen as an opportunity to gain different perspective from each other. We are all learners, and strive to be examples for our kids as such. on the other side of the same coin, the EBI parent community is one which really likes to play. A lot! It's a good balance.
As with any community, there is a level of reaping what you sow. I am sure there are parents who do not take advantage of the many opportunities for involvement, but as one who plunged right in, I could hardly be happier. EBI parent who likes to work and play
I have been a parent at 4 different East Bay Independent schools. Of those 4, EBI makes considerably more effort to create connections and community between parents. It's only November and I can think of countless activities this year for parents to get to know each other. It's always encouraged for parents to talk to someone they don't know at events as well and people actually do. Every Friday there is coffee on the playground set up for parents. I have found everyone at EBI to be very welcoming to our family who joined in Kindergarten instead of pre-k. I think in general you end up making friends with the parents of your child's friends and if you do volunteering or attend meetings at whatever school you attend you will find community there. Welcomed at EBI
For me, community is a very important part of our kids' elementary education, for a lot of reasons, with various direct and indirect benefits to them and to me and their mom. My wife and I work in the same part of Cal and are transplants to the Bay Area, so our kids' schools are important sources of community for us.
Our daughter is in kindergarten, her third year at Escuela Bilingue Internacional (EBI), and we have found the community to be a very important part of her and our experience. (Our son is still a toddler.) We see many strengths in EBI, which was why we decided to continue here for elementary school rather than go public (which we thought very seriously about).
One of the most important strengths was the community of parents and kids that we had already become part of and felt very comfortable and happy in. We have moved around a bit, and our daughter has attended four other schools/daycares. Of the five, EBI and one other place have had much stronger parent/family communities than the other three -- really thriving, warm, and connected. We feel very close to many particular other families, and connected in a really meaningful way to all of those at EBI.
I don't think the language affects the community negatively at all. None of the other places our daughter has attended had a language component (full or partial immersion) and one had a community that was as strong as EBI (but no stronger), and the others' communities were weaker. I actually can see the language component strengthening community, because there is an important, particular goal for our kids that we all share -- becoming fluent in Spanish and English -- beyond the goals universal to pretty much all parents.
EBI's curriculum and values, based on the International Baccalaureate model, are also particular to this community of parents and very important to our decision to come and stay at EBI. But that's not exactly what Gigi asked about. Jamie
Hi - I HAD to respond to this because our experience has been the complete opposite to what your friend told you. Our preschooler just started at EBI this fall and already we've been to various birthday parties and playdates. Parents also invited his whole class (via the parents) to play at a local park after school several times from the beginning and there's been get-togethers for just the parents as well. This doesn't even include the volunteer work (you don't have to participate but it's VERY easy to find yourself doing it and meeting other parents while you do) or the activities like La Vuelta - the cycling event at which my husband and a friend participated. We've met several parents whom we're becoming friends with and had a couple of occasions where we run into one of my son's classmates and end up hanging out for a few hours. If you're interested in belonging to a community (not just in your child's class but of many ages), I really believe you'll find EBI a wonderful place for BOTH you and your child. I encourage you to visit and talk to other parents there - informational sessions always have parent volunteers on hand to help answer questions. Good luck! Gabriela, EBI Pre-K Mom
Regarding EBI & community, we've been there a few years and it's got your typical range of parents who don't engage at all to parents/families that have engaged/shown-up/volunteered so much that they are super-connected and off doing impressive vacations, camping, dinners, hikes, ski leases and more together. So I think it's up to each parent to find what interests and motivates them. At EBI, community seems pretty core to the PTA activities, too. They host a FRI coffee every week that helps parents (who have the time) hang out and chat in a relaxed manner after they drop off kids. In both my kids' classes, we've had class parents that work pretty hard to make sure everyone is having opportunities to meet one another in playdates and even parent happy hours. I've appreciating getting to know other families that don't live in my relatively-homogenous neighborhood and learning about their cultures. That's my take. EBI Parent
Responding to your question about community at EBI: This is our 4th year at the school and I consider so many of the parents at the school to be my closest friends. The community is incredibly special and I feel so lucky to be a part of it. We most definitely have a mixture of cultures and people who do/don't speak Spanish, but this fact does not feel like an impediment to making great friends. The kids in the schools are also remarkable people. I hear from new parents that the kids are so welcoming to new kids at every grade level- which I think is so wonderful. The community also reaches out to new families so that they will feel welcomed and included. There are also so many ways to get to know other families, from Friday morning coffees to special events and classroom activities. I really recommend EBI- it is such an important part of my life as well as my son's! EBI parent
My kids have been at Escuela Bilingue Internacional for the past 7 years. They started as 3 year olds in preschool and now are in 2nd & 4th grades. We couldn't be happier with the school; the quality of the education and teachers are both outstanding. In my line of work, I travel to many schools in the bay area and meet all the teachers and kids. There have only been a few that I have thought, well, if something happened at EBI, I guess I could send my kids here. Most of them I end up thinking (to myself of course), ''wow- EBI is SO much better than this school!'' It's something about the way the teachers care for the kids - treating them with respect and lots of latina/o love. I really appreciate that my kids get hugged all day and called ''precioso'', ''muñeco'', and ''mi amor'' as well as the fact that their brains and emotional well-beings are so well looked after. And just the icing on the cake is the parent population - warm, friendly, welcoming, happy. Sometimes we joke that we all drank the coolaide because we all love EBI so much. All in all an A+ experience. Happy EBI mom
Our 4 and 6 year old children attend Escuela Bilingue Internacional in Oakland (w/campus in Emeryville as well).
Our 6 year old daughter started when she was 3. The children absolutely love it as do we. The program is 100% Spanish for pre-K then in Kindergarten they add an hour of English instruction and continue to add until I believe in Third grade it is 50/50. In fact, they also begin Mandarin instruction then.
We have found the teaching staff to be top notch- beyond their professional qualifications, they are a group of incredibly warm, creative and brilliant people who are committed to creating global citizens who maintain a lifelong love for learning and the inquiry process. We feel that we came for the Spanish, but we are staying for the values: the adherence to and passion for the mission.
The admissions process is laid out here: http://www.ebinternacional.org/en/index.php/site/page/30
Hi! I would definitely check out EBI (Escuela Bilingue Internacional). The quality of the Spanish instruction there is phenomenal and the instructors are all native speakers of Spanish. Our family speaks both Spanish and English at home (native speaker Dad, fluent non-native speaker Mom) and Dad's Spanish-speaking extended family all live nearby. Our daughter is 4 and completely bilingual. She switches easily between the two languages and has an advanced vocabulary in both. She speaks Spanish with Dad and his family and English with Mom. This is our daughter's second year at EBI and she loves it. The fact that it is a culturally Latino school has also been a real plus for our family, and she's learned a lot. There are a lot of monolingual English speaking families there, but also quite a few Spanish speaking ones as well. My (non-official) impression is that they're always looking to add more Spanish-speaking families.
Regarding the application process-- I recently found out that EBI is adding a third kindergarten class for next fall (2014), so I think it will be easier to get into K next year at EBI (they turned away a LOT of folks the last couple of years because pre-K families were staying and no K spots were opening up). Pre-K remains a good entry point to the school as well, they take kids who are 3+. Good luck in your search! Kris
Reviews for EBI? Send to preschool before Kinder?
Hi there, My son is 10months old and is currently in a Spanish immersion daycare/preschool.He can stay until he is ready for kindergarten. I'm really interested in applying to EBI for kindergarten/grade school and would love current reviews from parents. Also, I'm wondering if it is better for him to attend preschool at EBI to increase the chances of getting accepted for kindergarten. If that is the case, could I wait until he is 4 to make the change? I'd like the extra year to save money for tuition! Thanks so much for your thoughts.
We have been an EBI family for 6 years and it is a wonderful school! I think the transition to kindergarten from pre-school is easier if your child is already enrolled at EBI. When we started, it was not an issue to get into the school but now it is and I have heard that there is definitely a wait list for pre-school and kindergarten so it would be a great idea to get into the pre-school program. The school has only gotten better over the years and the combination of immersion and the PYP or International Baccalaureate program, great staff, diverse and wonderful community of families makes it a fantastic school! Good Luck! SSchafer
Hi there, I noticed your question about EBI - entering for preschool or waiting til Kinder. Based on our own experience with our son who is now 6 and in first grade at EBI, I highly recommend starting in PreK. There are huge benefits to getting used to the environment, knowing the teachers and staff, knowing the flow, so to speak. My son started at age 3 in the first year of preschool (actually in summer camp prior to that school year starting). Today, he is so comfortable in the school he wants to live there -- no, not really -- but it's often hard to get him to leave at pick up time. Kinder is the start of ''real'' school and having more structure. There's a learning curve with that. If you can give your child the benefit of being comfortable in the EBI surroundings before starting Kinder, all the better! And yes, from what I've heard, there is a higher chance of getting in at PreK vs in Kinder based on space availability. That alone shouldn't be your main decision point. It should be the benefits it'll yield to your son in having the comfort level and being ahead potentially in that way. Either way, you and your child will fall in love with EBI, with the teachers, with the staff, with the process... we hope to see you there. Stacy
I was unaware of EBI until my kids were in kindergarten. I transferred my twins to EBI from another dual immersion school in the first grade (they also had dual immersion preschool part-time). While they have caught up (took 1.5 years) I can tell you that the quality of their Spanish was subpar to the majority of kids that were at EBI throughout preschool. My youngest is at another dual immersion preschool this year and in hindsight I wish that I had put her into to EBI instead. This particular school is not that different in terms of tuition but the quality of the facilities and education at EBI is far better. Susan
Hi - My husband and I enrolled our daughter at Escuela Bilingue Internacional (EBI) when she was just three for their preschool program, and we are very happy that we did. We do not speak Spanish at home, and wanted her to have a second language. The preschool program was rich in all areas in addition to the language exposure and the teachers warm, dynamic and professional. In addition to being a Spanish immersion school, EBI is a certified Internacional Baccalaureate (IB) institution. The learning program is inquiry-driven, and even in the preschool we found this approach really empowering for our daughter. Although it is not necessary to attend EBI's preschool before entering Kindergarten, our daughter's transition was particularly smooth, and having been a part of the EBI community already made this move to more Kindergarten's more formalized learning program even easier. Currently she is in second grade, enjoying the process of learning, and soaking up the wonders of the world like a little sponge - in both Spanish and English. Happy EBI parent
My boys both started with preschool at EBI and we couldn't have been happier. They love their school just as much as we do. I understand there was quite a large list of people wanting to get into EBI this year, so if I were you, I'd try to get him in at the preschool level for SURE and then if you don't get in reapply for kindergarten. Good luck! kristen
Our son started at EBI in Sept 2012 as a kindergardener, with no previous Spanish, and is doing well. The primary downside of waiting until kindergarden (rather than starting in Pre-K) is that there tend to be significantly fewer spaces available in K than Pre-K, since the Pre-K students have the option of continuing on if they wish. Starting in Pre-K will increase the odds of having a place in one of the K classes (it also means paying the tuition sooner of course, which may or may not compare to the tuition at your alternative preschool). The other benefit of starting in Pre-K is getting your child into an immersion setting earlier, which will make Pre-K easier if Spanish is not spoken at home -- but this isn't essential; I do not feel at this point that our son is at a disadvantage for not having had Spanish until this year. (While Spanish is predominantly spoken at the school, the teachers always translate for individual kids as needed -- they get lots of one-on-one attention and the teachers are deeply committed to ensuring the kids are learning in a happy, nurturing environment -- we are thrilled with the school). zabrae
I am a current parent of a preschooler at EBI and I am delighted by the quality of education my daughter is getting. She started there this year as a 3 year old and spoke no Spanish. She is now able to understand a large amount of Spanish (follow directions, stories, etc.) and she speaks back in Spanish. Besides that, I really love the IB (International Baccalaureate) philosophy that is taught. One of the characteristics taught is risk-taking and I can see this developing. For example, this weekend one of our friends spoke to her in Spanish and instead of just getting shy, she spoke back to him and in Spanish. It was great to see her, as a 3 year old, able to take theses small steps of speaking up. This will be so helpful as she grows. Overall, I plan on keeping her at the school past the pre-Kindergarten years and really think that she will grow there. I can't comment on admissions (as we applied just as she turned 3) and I hope someone else will comment. I have not regretted my decision to send her to EBI and look forward to seeing her grow. Happy mom of an EBI student
You are wise to be looking into Escuela Bilingue Internacional (EBI) for your son. We have two children there and are thrilled with it. As you may know, EBI is an IB world school and they use the Primary Years Program (http://www.ibo.org/pyp/) which is really very impressive in action. The children learn using a variety of modalities and they incorporate global and local learning in a myriad of creative ways; the focus is on creating lifelong learners. The children at EBI truly enjoy the process of learning, and are engaged at every level. Outside of school, my 5 year old creates math games out of any opportunity, and writes stories constantly. The teaching staff is amazing. They are passionate about their work, and so sweet and loving towards the children; our kids love their teachers. The parent community is also very impressive. The school was founded by a group of parents, and the school still has a very strong, active parent body which continues to enhance the spirit of the place. As for starting in pre-k, I highly recommend it to guarantee a spot in Kindergarten. As for starting at 4 versus 3, while it would represent a year of cost savings, I wouldn't want to miss the year of opportunity to have my child in EBI. Happy with EBI
Hi there! I wanted to respond to your post asking for current reviews of EBI and wondering when a good time is to apply to the school. My daughter, who began EBI this year as a 3 year old, is having a wonderful year there and we're very happy with the school. The language instruction there is phenomenal, as is the IB curriculum, which allows for a lot of open-ended exploration. It is a very fun, play-based environment with very affectionate teachers. The school also does a good job with the kids on the socialization aspects as well, which is huge at this age. I was impressed at the recent parent- teacher conference at how much the teachers really ''get'' my daughter. And my daughter loves her school.
And, regarding your question as to when is a good time to start at EBI, the school is getting harder to get into in general. Unlike a lot of private schools which take in whole new Kindergarten classes, most kids at the pre-K level at EBI stay at the school for K, which means fewer spots for new families. Coincidentally, I was speaking last week with the Director of Admissions at EBI (because my daughter's first cousin is starting as a 3 year old at the school next fall!) and she said that there were only 3 spots which were open this year for 4 year olds and 3 spots which were open at Kindergarten, as opposed to something like the 40 spots for two new 3 year old classes that they fill each fall.
So applying as a three year old is definitely your best bet if you're pretty sure you're interested in the school long term. These decisions are always hard! We really liked the preschool our daughter attended as a two year old, but decided to switch her to EBI as a three year old because it's easier to get in as a three year old and so that she'd be familiar with the school and the IB approach by the time she hit K. Hope this helps! happy EBI Mom
Your experience after EBI?
I am interested in families that have transferred out of EBI in the last couple of years -- where did you go, why, and what has been your experience? I understand that EBI has vastly improved with the new Director of School, and yet some families do go elsewhere for a variety of reasons. What have you found in terms of your child's level of preparation as compared to the children in the new school? I am familiar with the EBI reviews and IB curriculum; i'm more wondering about how it compares when people go elsewhere. Gracias!
Hi - We left EBI in the middle of last year. We left because my child has significant learning disabilities, and even though the school tries to promote differentiated learning approaches, there is not enough support for kids with significant learning issues. They had one learning specialist who is spread thin, but the school would not provide the level of support that my child needed. Most kids with language-based learning disabilities have a very difficult time with a second language (they are often having a very difficult time learning to read and write their first language) and would need a tremendous amount of support to be successful in a dual immersion program. The only way she would get extra support at EBI was if we paid for tuition and then paid for the extra services ourselves. We transferred to our public school in Albany. My daughter so far is getting great support in our public schools because she qualifies for extra help like language therapy, an aide in class, etc. and we live in a school district that is better than most at supporting kids with learning differences. She is also only working in one language. Since she was born in Latin America we are hoping that she will become conversant in Spanish in the future, but she will likely never be fully bilingual in that she will not be doing academic work in a second language. We were sad to have to let go of our hope that she would become fully bilingual, but she is much happier and eager to attend school. Last year she was begging us everyday to not make her go to school, she was not really learning anything, and her self-esteem suffered significantly. I know another family that also left EBI because their child was dyslexic and having similar struggles. The level of academic work seems very similar to what is expected in our public school, the only big difference is the Spanish immersion which is not available in Albany public schools. Former EBI parent
We left EBI after being there for a few years. We were there with the new head of school: Jon Fulk. The vast majority of the staff/parents are very kind and loving but we found EBI to be more language and politically focused than academic. The Spanish is excellent but the academics were lacking in the preschool/PreK classes. Reading and writing skills were minimal and really needed to be done at home. Given the tuition, I expected the school to do that. Our child is behind academically at new school and still working to catch up. The lack of basic reading/writing skills made new school admissions difficult. It is a new school with their heart in the right place, still finding its way. Parent
EBI kids do great. We left last year after 4 happy years at EBI, mostly because we're less media oriented than the middle school program. (EBI is normal, btw! We're not!) My son could have gone anywhere, and not only because of the academic foundation he received at EBI, but because he's so open to new experiences and people. I think the immersion experience, and the values they teach at EBI have a lot do with that. Elisa
My family left EBI after my children's kindergarten year, to attend Melrose Leadership Academy, an Oakland Spanish-immersion public K-8 school. We had a great experience at EBI, and both of my children were very well prepared in both math and language arts for their new first grade. We do not speak Spanish at home, and the MLA community particularly commented on the fact that my children were speaking and writing in ''academic'' Spanish with full fluency for their age. The EBI community has continued to be welcoming and friendly with us, despite our decision to go to public school. EBI provided a great education for my kids, both academically and in building both enthusiasm and discipline to learn. - Former EBI parent
Escuela Bilingue Internacional: curriculum/values?
I'm very seriously considering applying to EBI for kindergarten (and beyond), and have a few questions that I'm hoping the BPN community can help me answer. I toured the school and was quite impressed with what I saw. However, I have questions about the quality of the school's curriculum. I'm also a little worried about the values of a private school community. I attended a very posh girls' school where the daughters of Silicon Valley billionaires openly sneered at those of us who were attending on scholarship and mocked others when they didn't get cars for their 16th birthdays, so I'm hypersensitive to the slightest hint of snobbery. I'd like to hear from current or recent EBI parents with their opinions and views about these issues. Buscando informaciC3n
My foster son was at EBI for 2 years. I was continually impressed by the school. Both in terms of their curriculum and how they handled the everyday issues that come up at a school. They were incredibly empathic with kids who were different (including high-energy, which is often a real test of schools). I saw very thoughtful differentiated learning and just a very thoughtful way of presenting learning for all learning styles. It was not at all with a feel of a private school. No snobbishness. No support for judging people because of their income. I think the families who are there because of the bilingual focus (although that's not why they stay), is more of a focus than economics. There are a significant number of families with at least one parent from another (Spanish-speaking) country. We would still be there, except we're public school people. Our foster-son misses it.
The EBI community is the complete opposite of snobby. There's no sense of privilege there, just commitment to raising effective citizens. If you're trying to keep economic status off your child's radar for a while, EBI is a great place to do it. A small note: the uniform policy helps with that goal. Elisa
Get a copy of EBI's Curriculum Guide. It's a tome, written by Sagrario Arguelles, an internationally recognized master teacher, whom EBI is very lucky to have on staff full time. If you have any questions, you can probably talk to Sagrario directly. Elisa
Hi - I am the parent of a rising second-grader at Escuela Bilingue Internacional (EBI). Though my husband and I initially enrolled our daughter because we valued the Spanish language immersion aspect of EBI, the curriculum at EBI is equally if not more of an attractant now. We are embarking on our 5th year and I am happy to address some of your concerns!
EBI is an International Baccalaureate (IB) school utilizing the Primary Years Program, and adding the Middle Years Program this fall for our sixth graders. The IB program is inquiry-based, meaning that while the curriculum framework is rigorous (and adheres to CA standards) the learning themes are structured in such a way as to start with what the children have experience with and activate their desire to investigate and answer many of their own questions. The themes are also trans-disciplinary - language, math, history, science, art, music and more are all integrated, so the children see the connectedness. My favorite example is one of the themes for the Kindergarten year - How We Organize Ourselves. The specific subject for this six-week period was ''Games''. My initial reaction was doubtful, but it was quickly revealed that through investigating myriad games the children were learning math skills, utilizing both languages, studying anthropology (games from different cultures and time periods), creating their own games, working in small groups to collaborate, learning to be good winners and good losers, learning how to play as a team and more. It was a pleasure to watch my child enjoy her learning as much as she did. I encourage you to look at the IB Primary Years Program curriculum for EBI, which is available on the website and here: http://www.ebinternacional.org/en/index.php/site/page/61
In regard to potential private school snobbery - as someone from a family of middle-class academics who was on work scholarship at an East Coast college prep school, I can relate to your fears! I'm happy to report that in addition to having a diverse community in many other ways, over 1/3 of the EBI community uses scholarship funds. The school truly does make huge effort to explore diversity in all its forms, right in step with striving for a globally-minded community. Teaching tolerance and kindness are incorporated into the curriculum. I find that the community as a whole is wonderful - and that we are all learners, young and old. Hope that helps! Happy EBI parent
Re: EBI vs. Renaissance School
We had our son in preschool at EBI for one first year and we all LOVED the families, warm and caring teachers, and the school commitment to language immersion and Latino cultures. However, we could not deal with shortcomings of the infrastructure of the school (e.g. uneven application of a curriculum and varying level pedagogical skills and support for the staff) We live about five minutes from EBI so it took A LOT to get us to switch schools. TRS has provided us with a community of loving families and warm caring teachers, but with an outstanding infrastructure of support for parents, teachers, and children. We didn't go out looking for a school with strong infrastructure and strong curriculum, probably because we didn't see ourselves as that sort of parents and because we didn't know of the freedom, comfort, growth and confidence that these provide. My son now is in his fourth year at TRS and our youngest child is in his third year. We have friends at EBI who are happy there and happen to have an outstanding teacher. I think there are some phenomenal teachers at EBI. After experiencing the roughest end of the stick, however, I have come to value having a strong infrastructure and strong curriculum. The best measure, however, is how well my kids are doing at TRS. Maria
I can't speak to the Renaissance School, but I did want to write in response to the comment that described EBI's application of the curriculum as ''uneven''. It seems that the poster's child was at the school about five years ago and the school has changed tremendously during that time. In addition to hiring an amazing head of school, EBI is now an official IB school and the teachers receive tons of support and professional development. My daughter has been at the school for four years and in addition to feeling confident that she is getting a great education, the infrastructure gets better and better each year. It's a young school, so I am sure that there are growing pains that you may not experience elsewhere, but I think that it is a top-notch place for kids. Happy EBI Mama
I have three children at EBI and couldn't be happier. Not only are my children fluent in Spanish and English they are also learning Mandarin, starting in 3rd grade. Every aspect of EBI is stellar, from the music, art and PE programs to the fabulous teachers and head of school who works very hard to ensure that EBI's program is top notch. I read the review that someone posted last week and unfortunately their perspective was from EBI's 1st or 2nd year in existence which was obviously rocky given that it was a brand new school. EBI is now authorized as an IB World School, which points to a complete and thorough academic program. I know my children are getting an amazing education at EBI and most importantly they love their school. Happy EBI mom!
This is be our 5th year at EBI and I concur with what the previous person said - in EBI's 2nd year it completely lacked any infrastructure and was, quite frankly, a mess. That all changed, however, in its 3rd year when current head of school, Jon Fulk, arrived. One cannot imagine how different the school is from when the previous poster was there- though the loving, caring, dedicated staff & parent population remain. My kids are receiving a stellar, well-rounded education and tons of loving support from their teachers. In addition to their daily curriculum, I love that they can take violin lessons, capoiera classes, choir classes, soccer lessons, and ceramic classes (among other things) after school. I also love that the parents at the school are SO involved, dedicated, and over-all nice. It's just really a fantastic place. dedicated EBI mom
Our (almost) 4-year-old daughter is in her first year of pre-school at EBI, and we've been thrilled with both the environment and the education that she's received.
The school has been around for over 5 years now, and really seems to be hitting its stride. As I've written before on BPN, we were very impressed by their teaching method, especially the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, which starts at the pre-school level and carries through to all grades. While we did consider some other language schools (that had been around for much, much longer), it seemed to us that EBI understood that while becoming bilingual is very important, it is still just one component of a complete education.
As to the urban space, I can only say that our daughter has been very happy with the combination of indoor (the school gym) and outdoor play space. This has also been supplemented with field trips to parks, museums, libraries, etc.
Feel free to email me if you have any other questions. Peter
EBI is a fabulous, rich program with impressive administration, and some of the most inspired, dedicated teachers I've ever met. If you are attracted to the IB program (which builds so many wonderful qualities in the children) I wouldn't hesitate to send your children. My son learned beautiful Spanish there, and so much more, in a supportive, intelligent, compassionate environment. All the best, Elisa
We are in our 3rd year of EBI, with a Kindergardener (who did two PreK years at EBI) and current PK-er. We do not speak Spanish at home. Both kids are completely different personalities and we find both are thriving in the environment and with EBI's IB curriculum. IB (International Baccalaureate) can be hard to digest on a school tour/info session, but over time we've learned more about it and are convinced this, in addition to the languages and enrichment classes offered will give our kids the right education for our personal values/aspirations. Also, I've found it pretty easy to communicate with the teachers and administration whenever we had any issues or just for general 'how is everything?''
I did hear there was quite a bit of turmoil & exodus at this 'new' school prior to the current Head of School (Jon Fulk) arriving 3 years ago. Feedback I've heard from families that stuck through it is that his leadership has transformative to the school, so we feel lucky we hit it at the right time. EBI is now in its 6th year and feeling very steady, with a fantastic community (families, board of trustees) offering undying support to the staff. Good luck in your decision! Happy EBI Family
I have 2 children at EBI and our family has been with EBI since the school opened its doors in 2006. Throughout the past 6 years, there has been a tremendous amount of growth and progress and while EBI is still considered new, it has established a solid curriculum and an outstanding faculty and staff. The International Baccalaureate curriculum offers an integrated approach to education and my children (who are quite different) have thrived in this flexible environment that really evaluates the needs of each child. The Units of Inquiry (6 in the lower school and 4 for the preschool) are designed to be appropriate for all grade levels and the teachers have created very challenging and engaging activities and lessons for the kids. What I love is that my oldest, who is now in 3rd grade, is able to relate the current unit to what was presented last year and she sees how things are building upon each other from prior years.
Our Head of School, Jon Fulk, has been at EBI for 3 years now and has helped develop all the teachers and continues to challenge to school community to think in new ways. All of the teaching staff and Jon are very accessible and there is a lot of communications with the parents. Every teacher is more than willing to meet with parents to answer questions and provide feedback on your child at any time.
A newer school like EBI is not for everyone, but I can honestly say that it is a home away from home for my children and we are so proud to be a part of this community.
If you have specific questions, I'd be more than happy to answer them. You can get my contact information from the moderator. A Proud and Happy EBI Mama
Our daughter is 4 years old and in Pre-K at EBI. It has been a terrific year. We have found the faculty and staff to be warm, caring, professional, and very well informed. The school has a strong curriculum, guided by International Baccalaureate (IB) principles, which is quite impressive in its scope, sequence, and relevance. As an educator myself, I have been impressed by the coordination between the teaching teams, the method of inquiry, and the trans-disciplinary approach. Key concepts are explored across multiple subjects and carried through from year to year, providing context and continuity. We see our daughter learning in an environment that is interesting, fun, and organized. Although the school is relatively new, it has really come into its own in the past few years. The head of school, Jon Fulk, provides incredible leadership. The faculty and staff are highly qualified and dedicated. Communication between the school and the parents has been excellent. Additionally, we have found the families at the school to be very involved and committed. It's an incredible community, and we feel so lucky to be a part of it. Very Happy EBI Mom
Re: Where does your middle-schooler go to school?
Hi, my daughter will be attending 6th grade at Escuela Bilingue Internacional. It is a Spanish/English bilingual international school that offers the International Baccalaureate curriculum. The children also learn Mandarin as a third language. Students wanting to enroll however must have grade level proficiency in Spanish. This is the first year they will have middle school. My daughter has been at the school since Kindergarten and our daughter is happy and loves school. The kids in her class get along really well and the school addresses concerns quickly and thoroughly. If your child speaks Spanish you should definitely come and check it out. We are having an information session about Middle School this Saturday at 10:30am. at 4550 San Pablo Ave. in Emeryville. Liza
Re: Elementary or middle school with a great music program
Escuela Bilingue Internacional (Pre-K through 5th grade, expanding to 6th grade for next year) has, among other strengths, a terrific music program. My daughter, currently in Pre-K, has thrived with the school's approach to music. She comes home every day belting out new songs. Her music teacher, Jackie Rago, is an accomplished musician who clearly has a talent for working with kids. My daughter is very fond of her and always makes sure to point her out to me at school. The recent Halloween performance was a real treat, consisting entirely of original compositions created in collaboration with the students. The kids threw their heart and soul into the performance, and it was spectacular. Lauren
The only Spanish Immersion Middle School that I know of is Escuela Bilingue Internacional (EBI) in Emeryville. Currently the school is Pk-5th grade but the plans are for the school to go up to 8th grade. Next year they add 6th grade and are currently accepting Middle School applications.
This is our 5th year at EBI and we plan to stay through middle school. EBI is getting accredited as an International Baccalaureate Organization school, which means that the curriculum is Inquiry based. Students are taught to think critically, to develop their analytical and experimental skills, to take responsibility for their learning and consider how it affects the world around them and to be better global citizens. You should take a tour and check out their new facility. http://www.ebinternacional.org/ Happy EBI parent
You should check out Escuela Bilingue Internacional (EBI)! It's an amazing bilingual English-Spanish immersion K-8 school in Oakland and Emeryville. My child began this year and we've been very impressed with the quality of teaching and the organization of the school. In addition to language immersion, the schools offers an IB curriculum as well as a strong arts program. We also love the friendly and open community of families who deeply care about the school. You can check out the website at:www.ebinternacional.org and contact Liza Sanchez, the Admissions Director at 510.653.3324. There's also an upcoming Middle School Info Session on January 10th. Good luck! Anonymous
My child is younger, but attends Escuela Bilingue Internacional, a private Spanish/English school with campuses in Oakland and Emeryville. They will be adding a middle school next year in Emeryville, as they have been adding a grade per year. The school is only a few years old and they add a grade each year as the older students ''age in'' to the next grade level. It is a wonderful school, I can't say enough positive things about how great it has been for our daughter. We adopted our child from Latin America and wanted her to have some contact with her birth country's language and culture. EBI is an international baccalaureate school, all the classroom teachers are native Spanish speakers and bring their culture and language to the school. It is a warm, supportive staff and community of diverse families. Happy mom
I would suggest that you look at Escuela Bilingue Internacional (website: www.ebinternacional.org) It is a private Spanish immersion school, and it goes up to 6th grade (ultimately it will go up to 8th grade). I think you'll be be very impressed with the rigorous academics, the talented staff, and especially the warmth and diversity of the families that attend. The curriculum is called International Baccalaureate (IB)and has a global community focus. They have financial aid available too! Happy parent of bilingual kid
Re: Admission to Spanish immersion programs, berkeley
Though our son tested bilingual through Berkeley Ed Dept, he didn't get into any immersion kindergartens on first round. We had also applied to Escuela Bilingue Internacional and are thrilled with the teachers and robust program, which is inquiry and curiosity based with warm, responsive teachers and very little rote learning. A third of kids have some scholarship. It starts in preschool and will go up to 8th grade, is located on Alcatraz near college, with a new campus in Emeryville. - glad parent
I am a parent of two children new to EBI (Escuela Bilingue Internationale). I just wanted to say how amazing the school is at dealing with conflict between children, especially bullying behavior. I have three boys who have attended lots of schools, and EBI's policies (and their ACTUAL response) is by far the most personal, impressive, thoughtful, and active of any school I have ever experienced. There are many things I like about the school, but on this issue (which I feel so many schools give lip-service to, but have no follow-thru), I felt I must take the time to commend them publicly! ~A hard-to-impress Oakland parent
It's a little early for my 3.5 year old, but... I'm looking for input on Spanish immersion in Berkeley/Oakland schools. I've looked through the archives, but would love some more information/advice -- on or off the listserv. I know (a little) about the Berkeley lottery schools, and Escuela Bilingue, but want to know more.
-are any of you parents who actively chose private over public immersion, or vice versa? why (other than the obvious $ difference)?
-how progressive/child-centered of an education would you say your child is getting in an immersion program?
-how good are the programs with PE, art, music?
-if your children are in their teens or older, and have gone through immersion, how fluent are they really? basically -- does it work??
-what are the biggest problems/concerns you have had about your immersion experience -- either specific to a school or about immersion in general?
Thanks so much for any time you feel like taking to answer any of this! Esme
We are an EBI family, and happy to share our thoughts on your areas of interest. Our eldest is currently in 3rd grade, so I don't think there were any Oakland public immersion programs available when he started school. But we're really happy with our experience thus far at EBI.
The primary difference between EBI and a public immersion program would have to be the International Baccalaureate program that EBI is currently implementing. The IB program is very child centered, promotes critical thinking and global citizenship, and really results in kids who can ask good questions and know where to get the answers. EBI is currently a candidate school for IB certification, and expects to get their full certification during this school year.
Our 3rd grader is at the point where he is getting about half of his instruction in English and half in Spanish (plus 3 hrs per week of Mandarin). Without any support at home, he is as fluent a speaker, reader and writer of Spanish as he is English. When he comes home and reports on what he did or learned that day, it's really impossible to tell whether he learned it in Spanish or English. EBI also has PE for kindergarten and up and a really incredible music program for all of the age groups (including learning recorder in 1st grade and up).
We're obviously thrilled with our experience at EBI, and I can safely say that the immersion thing really works to create truly bilingual (and biliterate) kids. I think our biggest concern was how our children would cope with the language difference, but they have really thrived. Parent of 2 bilingual kids
Hi Esme, I am the parent of 4 trilingual daughters, two of whom attend Escuela Bilingue Internacional. I am also the Director of Admissions at EBI so I work with a lot of families who have your same questions. Here are a couple of responses I have to some of the issues you bring up.
EBI is an independent school, which allows us to hire the teachers we feel are best for our program. Because we only hire native speakers who have an advanced knowledge of the language, many of our teachers have had their teacher training in other countries. The public schools would not be able to hire them. We feel fortunate to have such a high caliber of teachers who are native speakers of Spanish.
EBI offers the International Beccalaureate Primary Years Program. It is an incredibly progressive framework for education and is based on inquiry as a tool for learning. You can read more at www.ibo.org
Students at EBI have music twice a week and PE three times a week. Both programs have highly motivating teachers and are well-designed programs. EBI has plans to hire an art teacher but at this time art is integrated into the curriculum by the classroom teachers.
All of my daughters are completely fluent in both Spanish and English. They also speak German. In addition to Spanish, students at EBI also begin instruction in Mandarin in 3rd grade.
I hope this information helps! Please let me know if I can answer any other questions. I hope you will come by and visit us on a tour or during one of our information sessions. Best of luck in your research! http://www.ebinternacional.org Liza
Esme: We are at EBI and have been since it opened - my son started when he was three and is now in first grade. My daughter just started in Mid-K at four after we had a wasted year in a 1/2 day immersion preschool. It was important to me that both my kids be bilingual AND biliterate, which kind of informs my response to your questions below:
Private/public: I chose an independent school vs public because 1) public options are extremely limited and hard to get in to and 2) lack the curriculum and academic level that I was most committed to. EBI has an international curriculum (called IB/PYP) that not only addresses the immersion need, but will - in the end - create global citizens who are committed to making a difference in the world and will have the intellectual and emotional tools they need to do it.
Progressive/child-centered: EBI, because of the IB/PYP program, has it. The way the kids learn is based on THEIR interests vs something prescriptive. You can learn more about the curriculum on their website.
PE/ART/Music: PE and music are great at EBI and music in particular is an intrinsic part of the program, and are lead by a professional musician who plays all over the country when she's not teaching. Art is part of the everyday programs, vs a committed teacher, but as the kids get older I think an art teacher will be hired.
Experience: I have not had any problems other than people not understanding why it's important to me or anyone else. There is a lot of ignorance regarding bilingual education and learning outcomes, and I had to educate my family on why it was not only not a bad thing, but being bilingual helps my kids in areas OTHER than language. My kids are bilingual and easily switch between languages. As they learn to read, they are becoming biliterate....which, combined with all the other things they are learning and becoming thanks to the IB/PYP curriculum, will set them up for life. agency
I am the parent of a kindergartener at the Escuela Bilingue Internacional, the Spanish Immersion school in Oakland. Our daughter is starting her third year at the school, and we continue to be very happy here - not only with the quality of our daughter's education, but with the whole school community.
Originally we wanted to send our child to a public school, but in looking at our options in Oakland quickly realized that we needed alternatives. We both liked this idea of a second language immersion, as so may studies have shown how good this is for the developing brain - how it increases mental capacity for other arenas such as mathematics and music, etc ... Although neither my husband nor I speak fluent Spanish, we recognize how important it now is to know it, so we looked into the Escuela Bilingue (EBI). We went to an info night, and learned that not only is EBI immersion, but incorporates the International Baccalaureate program - inquiry-driven, trans-disciplinary and focusing on the development of the whole child, inside and outside the classroom.
We were concerned that, especially as a younger child with no prior Spanish, our daughter would not have her communication needs met particularly around emotional issues (conflict resolution, fears, etc.) We found that this was addressed - when necessary, the teachers will revert to the first language of the child. Additionally there is now a bilingual learning specialist available on staff who is an available resource for both parents and teachers. After her second year, our daughter's comprehension of Spanish is great. She speaks Spanish as well, but generally not with us. Our attempts to speak or read Spanish at home are often met with a "no" - likely because she knows that we don't speak or pronounce things correctly (fair enough). Our concerns that she would lag behind in English have been addressed as well. She has an hour of English a day in Kindergarten with an English teacher, and we read to her at home. She's now reading in English on her own.
The staff at EBI are fantastic. In addition to training and mastery of the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, the teachers have boundless energy and open hearts. There is a lot of inter-staff communication comparing what aspects of projects have worked best. EBI's music, art and physical education programs are stellar. One of the school's two music teachers has just finished her Orff certification, and this approach, which pairs very well with the IB program, will be utilized in the music department. EBI's physical education teacher is professional (also a UC volleyball coach) and pays close attention to teaching children to move comfortably in their bodies and work together as teams rather than focusing solely on competition. Our daughter is self-confident, and she loves going to school.
It is the whole school community, however, that makes EBI what it is. It is warm, tolerant and diverse culturally, ethnically and socio-economically (there is an aggressive scholarship campaign) and with an incredibly active parent community. It is a young school - only in it's fifth year - and has growing pains as systems and structures are being set in place, but frankly this can be exciting as everyone who wants to participate gets to be a part of coming up with solutions and setting the foundation. I definitely feel that at EBI our daughter is getting the school experience we want for her, and that she is being given all the right tools and skills to take an active, positive role in our fast-changing world.
Feel free to email me if you have more specific questions. A happy EBI parent heather
Re: Spanish immersion school with strong art program
My child is at Escuela Bilingue International (pre-K), so take my comments, especially about the upper grades, with as much salt as necessary. He's my second, much younger, kid, so I've seen my share of schools. What strikes me most about EBI is the thoughtfulness of the administration and community in creating the curriculum and deciding how things will be done. There's an amazing flexibility and creativity in finding the best situation for each child. There is a very sincere commitment that I see in action to enable students to direct their education. You really see classes shift direction based on the ideas and interests of the kids, individually and collectively. In some ways, this is more meaningful in the upper grades, but I see it as well even in the PK. It takes a special kind of a teacher to start a day with a certain plan in mind and integrate changes in direction at the drop of a hat, but I've watched it.
Which is to say two things about arts -- if a kid's interested in art, I know that they would get a tremendous amount of support in integrating that into many aspects of his education. And, I suspect that as the school continues to expand, arts will be strengthened. I continue to see the school fine-tune and strengthen various parts of the program (this year hiring a gym teacher who is really amazing). I'm not sure that I perceive EBI as particularly weak on the arts -- there's currently a display of children's interpretations of great artists' works.
One last thought for you -- I had a fairly specific list that I used when looking for a school for my older son, based on his pre-school experience and his interests. He's in an arts magnet school which he loves. It's a great school. But, he's lost interest in art. Not because of the school. He just grew and changed. I don't regret it exactly, but if I had to do it again I would look for the overall school that seemed to support students well, with a much less specific list.
One last thing about EBI -- it's a very international community (not surprisingly) which is very fun and, I think, broadening. EBI parent
Wanted to provide some feedback on EBI. The langauage aspect is phenominal, as the teaching staff represents many spanish speaking countries and the manner in which they teach is comprehensive. The art program is completely integrated into the curriculum, which is why it may seem limited. My kids have been exposed not only to hands-on art projects in many mediums, but also the a variety of artists and can speak knowledgeably about them. All of the teachers use art as a way to teach other subjects (math, geography, science and music). We have been very satisfied with the entire curriculum and recommend that you take a second look at EBI. Very Satisfied EBI Parent
I live in Berkeley, and don't know if private school will be an option for my future kindergartener. My daughter speaks Spanish at home, and Spanish immersion would be nice, but word on the street is that I'm not the only parent who has come up with this brilliant idea! From what I hear, parents have very little control in terms of where their kids end up. Are there public/magnet school options? Kindergarten curious
You're not the only one with that brilliant idea! In fact, four years ago, a bunch of parents with the same idea started Escuela Bilingue Internacional, an independent bilingual school (Spanish and English) located in Rockridge. The school now serves 3 year olds through 3rd graders (will eventually go through 8th grade), and is truly an amazing institution and community. We have two children at EBI, one in second grade and one in the preschool. We don't speak any Spanish at home, but our second grader is reading and writing Spanish and English and just started Mandarin!
EBI is implementing the International Baccalaureate Program, which is just about everything a parent could want from an educational program (addresses whole child, emphasis on global citizenship, etc.). The community at EBI is fantastic as well - over 50 percent of the families are of color or mixed heritage.
You mentioned that private school may not be in your child's future, but please consider that EBI has a very aggressive financial aid program that currently provides tuition assistance to over 20% of the students. Proud EBI Parent
You should definitely check out Escuela Bilingue Internacional (EBI) www.ebinternacional.org, which was started because of such a demand for multilingual education. We currently have our 3.5 year old daughter and 1st grade son there and we all love it. The Spanish immersion, international curriculum, teachers and community are wonderful. Heather C
I saw EBI in its first year, and was impressed with the school philosophy, and the plans the administration had for the school. However, things have changed. I hear there's a new director, and wonder if anyone can comment on how the school is now. Are the teachers effective? Is the IB really being used, or do the teachers think this is something that will be nice in the future? Have they been trained in it? What's the director like? Have the costs changed? These are lots of questions -- if you know answers to any of them, I'd love to hear about it! I'm thinking about this school as an option for a pre-k kid. Future EBI Parent?
Our daughter was part of the pioneer class at EBI and our son starts pre-school there in September. Jon Fulk is the new director and is an excellent addition to the school. He headed an IB school in Mexico City and has brought some of those teachers with him. They are IB certified as well as trainers. The board is very sensitive to cost issues and has tried to keep tuition down, compared to many of the other private schools it is low. The teachers are bought into the PYP and IB curriculum. I see great things ahead for this school and its students. Hopefully we will get to know each other. We will be setting up playdates this summer to ease the transition and start community building. Welcome! Anna
In answer to your questions about EBI: The new director, Jon Fulk, is a gem! The IB curriculum is being implemented as it would be in any IB school, although certification is yet to come. Several of the teachers are IB trained already and have taught in IB schools in other parts of Latin America. One teacher is an IB teacher-trainer who frequently travels to give trainings to teachers in other countries, and works closely with the EBI staff. In addition to the IB training the teachers are receiving, they are all caring, intelligent and dedicated teachers. I have two daughters there and they are very happy, as are we. Everyday, they are greeted with smiles and hugs, not just by their teachers but by everyone in the office. The parent community is also warm and inviting and very active in supporting the growth of the school. Come by for a parent led tour. I'm sure you will be more impressed than you were the first time. A happy EBI Parent
The new director is incredible. Bright, dedicated, organized, calm, warm, and very respectful of the children and families. He really wants the best for everyone, and he delivers it.
The kindergarten teachers are both great, and the 1st/ 2nd grade teacher (also great) is an IB expert who is implementing IB very effectively and training the teachers who are new to it.
Costs? Well, I wish it were free. Private school is a big financial commitment, but we're glad to be making it and we hope we can continue all the way through 8th grade.
Send your child there if 1. Bilingual education is very important to you; 2. You really want your child to learn by inquiry rather than taking top-down instruction from a teacher; and 3. You want to participate in growing a school. Happy at EBI
We've been happy at EBI and thrilled with the new director. The teachers we've had have been great. Jon, the director, greets all the children by name and most of them give him hugs when they see him. At the same time, he has brought a professionalism to the school that the teachers and parents both appreciate. The IB program is finally being put into place, the teachers are all getting training in it, and it is putting some good structure to the curriculum. Costs are very competitive with other private schools. I would encourage you to visit the school again to see how it has grown and, even, matured!
EBI is a wonderful school. My son started there the year the school opened and is currently in Kindergarten. He loves it, and so do I. Every one of his teachers has been wonderful and yes, they really do train in and implement the IB/PYP curriculum. The evidence of the curriculum is apparent to me every day, in how my son views the world. You didnmt ask about language but, for the record, my son spoke only English when he started, and is now fluent in Spanish. The school community (which is very diverse, racially, culturally and socio- economically) is strong, and there is significant family involvement. People are genuinely excited about being there. As for the new head of school, Jon Fulk: well, whatever wrinkles there were in the fabric of EBI, he is ironing them out. He is that rare person who is both a visionary and a competent, practical administrator. He also knows every child and parent, and greets them by name as they arrive in the morning. Upon enrolling each of the past three years, I felt that I was taking a leap of faith; with Jon Fulk running things, I no longer feel that way. Instead, I just feel lucky to be a part of EBI. --happy EBI parent
I saw your note about EBI and wanted to give you my thoughts from having been with the school since it opened (now three years). I have a son who started in Pre-K (age 3) and is now in Kindergarten.
You asked about the new director and what changes that has brought to the school. The director was hired as a result of an international search (applicants came from Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Paris ... quite astounding actually!) and he has more than a decade of experience in a dual-immersion Spanish/English preschool - 12th grade school in Mexico City where he was the head of the Elementary school. He is wonderful: deeply passionate about EBI's mission, very personable, a great educator, a terrific listener (when parents come with concerns), a great people manager, great with the teachers, super organized, focused on both the now and the vision. He was able to bring some teachers with him from Mexico, including one who is a trainer in the Primary Years Program of the International Baccalaureate. The teachers are teaching under the IB PYP curriculum and it's great to see the kids responding to it. I encourage you to go visit the school and check out the classrooms yourselves!
All in all, we are super happy: our son has learned a ton, is really engaged, and is completely bilingual. We're looking forward to next year when the 3rd graders will start Mandarin! 3rd year EBI parent
We have been at EBI since it started -- so this is our 3rd year. Even through the growing pains of the first 2 years we were happy because of the great community around the school and the shared commitment to the vision. But this year has been INCREDIBLE. The new school head, John Fulk, is from Mexico City, where he was a VP at a large school that followed the IB program. His arrival last summer, combined with EBI maturing a bit over time, has led to our dreams finally being realized! The school is run professionally, the environment is very positive, and the educational experience is top notch. Our son is in kindergarten and they are definitely realizing the IB cirriculum -- both kindergarten teachers work together to have a common approach to the program (with coaching from John, who is phenomenal). The teachers have also received other training. My son is entirely bilingual, and thriving. His kindergarten class recently did a play in which every child participated -- they created the script and all the parts together as a class. It was entirely in Spanish, the costumes were amazing, and it was all part of working on the IB ''organizing ourselves'' section. It was VERY organized, but each child also got to express his or herself in a unique way. I have always had love for the school - - but now I also have the daily experience of being *impressed* by what is being achieved. The kindergarten kids are reading and writing in Spanish and English, and doing math and science. We could not be happier, and we are so so so glad we stuck it out the first two years in which there were more growing pains. Oh, and did I mention that the school community (parents, teachers, volunteers) is still vibrant and wonderful?! Viva la EBI
I've been hoping someone would ask a question about EBI so I would have an excuse to rave publicly about our experience there. So thanks for the opportunity.
EBI is a new school (now in its third year) that has definitely hit its stride. The new director, Jon Fulk, is the most energetic and qualified school head I have ever encountered. He has a wealth of experience implementing the IB Primary Years Program, and the energy and vision to make EBI a premier school in the Bay Area.
As a parent, the PYP program hits all of the high points, addressing social and emotional development as well as academic pursuits. But it's not just the content the kids are getting but the love of learning they are developing that is most exciting.
The faculty are 100% committed to the school's mission and the PYP program. They have created a warm and welcoming learning community, and collaborate like no other group of teachers I have ever seen. One of the kindergarten teachers who has worked in international schools around the world said that being in the community of educators at EBI has been the most rewarding professional experience of her life.
And on the language, our child gets no support with Spanish at home, but after three years at the school is completely bilingual, and even asks on occasion how to say something in English!
In short, we're thrilled. It's a great community of families and teachers, and a dynamics and exciting place to be. It's really hard to imagine being anywhere else. Fired up EBI parent!
My husband and I are in the early stages of looking at school options for our sons, and are really excited about the idea of Spanish immersion; if we were to go the public-school route, our immersion option would be Leconte Elementary, but we're also considering looking at the Escuela Bilingue in Oakland. I'm curious to hear from people who might have made a choice between those two, or people who have their kids enrolled in one or the other (or not? Downsides are welcome, too!) Thanks a lot!
We were also looking at Berkeley Public School's two-way immersion and EBI. We live in the Central zone so Cragmont was our 2-way immersion option. Our child was already enrolled at EBI for preschool but we were leaning towards public school because it's free. I spent a good deal of time visiting each grade of the 2-way immersion program at Cragmont and also visiting the K class at EBI. We decided on EBI for a number of reasons.
When a student at EBI speaks to a teacher in English, the teacher repeats in Spanish what the child just said and, depending on the situation and grade level, may have the child then repeat their statement/question in Spanish. That way the child is not only hearing the teachers speak Spanish but they also hear and speak their own thoughts in Spanish. If my child says, lI need a penciln her teacher will prompt her to say lNecesito un l7piz.n I did not hear this being done at Cragmont. The students spoke English to the teachers and the teachers answered in Spanish. This is the critical piece of an immersion program for determining who can understand Spanish and who can understand it AND speak it.
I also value the fact that EBI, to the greatest extent possible, employs native speakers or teachers with native-like fluency. My child's pronunciation is impeccable. A couple of the teachers at Cragmont, while fluent, just didnmt have native- like pronunciation. Not super important but a nice perk.
Perhaps the most compelling reason we chose EBI was the International Baccalaureate curriculum. The International Baccalaureate aims to develop linquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect... These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.'' At the center of what EBI does everyday is the IB Learner Profile: inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk- takers, balanced and reflective. Excited to be at EBI
EBI students experience constructivist(students create meaning through experience and discovery), inquiry-based (children develop questions about the world and then identify ways and sources of investigation), and transdisciplinary (children holistically understand complex problems by investigating them through all academic and artistic disciplines) learning that is internationally-minded (children understand the world from the multiple perspectives people use to make meaning of the world) and action (children change their behavior or take action to reflect they have learned something new). I highly recommend you check out the IB website to learn more about IB: www.IBO.org
Having said all of this, I do have to comment that EBI is a new school and has felt some growing pains q nothing uncommon in the field of education or at a new institution. However, they have hired a new head of school that starts this July. I was very impressed by his immediate grasp of the school's strengths and needs, his shared vision for the future, and his innate understanding of how to get EBI there. Nonetheless, since it is a new school, you have to have a bit of the pioneer spirit to feel comfortable there. But you will be surrounded by an amazing community of diverse and dedicated families who all share the same mission as the school. Excited to be at EBI
I know there are some references to Escuela Bilingue in the archives, but there aren't a lot. I went on a tour a couple of weeks ago, and while I thought the preschool looked great -- the kids seemed to be having a grand time -- the parent tour- guides were really down to earth and friendly, and the building looks like it has potential (the yard is great), I came away with doubts in my mind after seeing the kindergarten. I can't put my finger on it exactly. Are there people with kids there, particularly in K or 1st grade? Are you happy with the school? Obviously, I know it's a brand-new school so growing pains are part of the process. And the whole idea of an IB, immersion K-8 program is wonderful to me -- I just wonder what the confidence level is like in terms of them being able to pull this off. Thanks for any advice, comments. Mom of Young 5
I've got a kid at the Escuela in the K/1 class and he loves it. I've spent a good amount of time in the classroom, so I can tell you that the teacher shines best when you get to know her. She's intelligent and compassionate and she really tries to understand each child individually. She's thinking not just about academics but about each child's attitude toward work. She helps them to develop a tolerance for frustration, a willingness to try something difficult, etc. She's easy to talk to and open to ideas, including the children's ideas. Over the last two weeks, each child has had an opportunity to teach a lesson of their own design. One kid talked about planets, another about farming, a third made her own pinata. It was a lot of fun and very exciting for the kids.
There are also two other teachers in the classroom: Merly, the assistant, is just who you want to be there emotionally for your child; and Pilar, the reading teacher, is a delight. She's doing the Writer's Workshop material with the kids every afternoon in the most creative and inventive ways. She's got the kids acting out stories before they sit down to write them. It's really helped the kids conceptualize what a story is.
And yes, I have every confidence that the Board knows what they are doing and are succeeding. The school is extremely well run administratively.
As a new school, the Escuela does not have everything yet, but what it does offer is really special: a second language for your child; an international faculty; an atmosphere of optimism and energy; a great music teacher; a parent community that is intelligent, dedicated, unpretentious and fun-loving; a faculty that loves children and receives them with heart and encouragement. We feel grateful for it. K/1 mom
We have a daughter in the K/1 class at EBI. We weren't sure how it would go since she's one of the youngest in the class, had been in a non-structured play-based pre-school and has a limited background in Spanish. After spending a few weeks "getting comfortable" at EBI, she now seems VERY happy, engaged and not stressed by the "rigors" of kindergarten. She's bonded with all three teachers (and has to hug them goodbye) as well as many of the kids. My daughter has never shared much what goes on at any school and I haven't spent any time in the classroom (mostly due my daughter's attachment behavior when I'm around), so I rely on the teachers and school materials/work to understand what she's doing. She seems to enjoy all the activities. She's proud to be learning Spanish and loves to teach us new words. She's a lefty and had some challenges with learning to write, but they've really been helping her and she's shown tremendous improvement in a short time. She now loves to do "real world" math with us whenever she can. The only complaints we hear are about normal kid politics, which are mild compared to her preschool since the kid "leaders" in this EBI K/1 class are amazingly kind and inclusive.
I definitely think the language immersion aspect can have an effect in terms of engagement, especially in the beginning. During the first few weeks, my daughter didn't understand much of the Spanish and consequently only really engaged/listened when spoken to in English. Now that she understands more, she can better listen/engage with all speaking in the classroom. Overall, we think EBI is a great kindergarten for her! Mom of an EBI kindergartener
My son is in the K/1 class at EBI and this is our second year at the school. While there are definitely some growing pains that this two-year-old school is still working out, our child's experience in the classroom has been terrific.
I was leery of having my son in a mixed age classroom b/c EBI is not a Montessori school and I worried that the teacher and supporting staff would be ill-equipped to handle the range of students. All of those fears have been allayed. Jana is an experienced educator who has done a terrific job of making lessons fit the varying skill levels of the students.
She is doing a great job of working with the English language teacher Pilar to ensure that the kids are developing their reading and writing in Spanish and English. She also does a good job of keeping order in the class. I can see how you might think Jana is a bit reserved upon first meeting her, but I assure you that her students are enthralled by her lessons and enjoy her company.
My son is thriving at EBI. EBI K/1 Parent
I can't comment on the kindergarten class in particular, but wanted to respond to ''I just wonder what the confidence level is like in terms of them being able to pull this off.''
I suggest that you speak with as many current EBI parents as possible. For example, if you show up around drop-off or pick-up time, you will have an opportunity to meet many parents, and while some will not have time to talk on the spot, I'm sure that most will be willing to arrange a time to talk. I think you'll find a wide range of experiences, levels of satisfaction, and expectations for the future of the school.
We have found the Spanish immersion aspect of the school to be fabulous, and the parent community to be exceptional. Some of the teachers are excellent. But leadership and daily management have been challenges, as evidenced by significant turnover in teachers after the first year. Part of this is undoubtedly due to the fact that the founding head of school left at the end of the first year. She has been replaced by an interim head, who will in turn be replaced by a new head next year.
The bottom line, I think, is that EBI is a very new school. It has many wonderful things to offer, but the growing pains are real. You'll need to weigh these things and decide if it's a fit for your family. Anonymous
We have applied to Escuela Bilingue Internacional next year for the Pre-K program. I?ve heard some great things about the Pre-K progam and mixed things about the Kindergarten program. Overall, my information about this new school is pretty limited. Can EBI parents please fill me in on the strengths of both the Pre-K program and the Kindergarten program AND any areas of concern or weakness. anon
EBI is a very new school: this year was its first year in operation. My son has been at EBI this past year in a pre-K class. The goals of EBI are to develop into a Pre-K through 8th grade bilingual school. The mission of the school is impressive, and the Board and administrators are really amazing, committed, competent people. And the parent community and parent involvement are fantastic. I think the school's future is *very* bright. That said, as would be true of any new school opening up for the first year, we have had our share of bumps in the road. Some of the preschool classes are absolutely stellar, while others are still catching their stride. My son has been in one of the classrooms that has taken a bit longer to fully reflect all the EBI potential (the teacher is very high energy and loving, but the classroom is much less structured, less clear communication between parents and teachers to help stress Spanish at home, etc). So my son is not in the ''best'' class, but he still has had an awesome experience -- speaking and singing Spanish, learning to write, talking about the world, making neat art projects, etc. Relative to my understanding of how many of my friends' children are experiencing other preschools, his experience compares favorably. My point I think is that EBI currently is hitting the ''outstanding'' to ''quite good'' range. And everyone (teachers, administration, parents) are working very hard to have it hit ''outstanding'' all the time - - which is a special feature of the school and community. I would encourage anyone who is committed to bilingualism and the general philosophy of International Baccalaureate teaching program to RUN to EBI to enroll. I think this school is already very strong, and has the potential to be the best private school in Oakland/Berkeley, bar none.
true believer, even tho we didn't get the ''best''
I am an EBI Parent of a Kindergartner. My daughter has been extremely happy at EBI. She loves her teachers and classmates and has learned a lot this year. The small teacher student ratio has also helped a lot. She is actually already reading in both Spanish and English. We had a few glitches this year, but very few given that is was the first year of the school. The school head taught kindergarten at the beginning of the year which didn't work too well so the school hired a separate K teacher. Despite these challenges the school has been very responsive to parent concerns and has done everything it can to make the kindergarten experience a positive one. They are dedicated to hiring experienced master teachers and we are sure next year will be much smoother. Overall, EBI is a loving school environment. Teachers really care about the children and the parent community is welcoming. Students are challenged and it is amazing to see the students become fluent in Spanish in such a short time. We are very happy there and more importantly our child is happy and learning. I highly recommend EBI to prospective parents. EBI Parent
For a school that just opened AND with the lowest enrollment fee of any NAIS school in the East Bay, Escuela Bilingue is surely a great bargain. Why my son loves the school? He's currently in the Kindergarten class. The emerging currilum/International Baccalaureate structure allows him to figure out the world and learn AT HIS PACE while validating his view of the world and making him open up to the value of others' perspectives.
The IB curriculum is concept-based so kids are taught to think ABOUT and ENGAGE WITH what they're learning, as opposed to what I grew up with which was to memorize LOTS of facts without even knowing why I had to know them. Critical thinking, basically. Because he's the youngest in his class, he's still not reading in English as well as some of his classmates. His reading in Spanish is quite good though and his teacher and Assistant are to be commended for that. My son loves the warmth he gets from the teachers and staff. He enjoys the fact that he's already able to see how people in different Latin-American countries have different words and accents (there's at least 5 different countries represented in teachers/staff). Last week he asked why Spanish people use a lisp when speaking Spanish. Because they emphasize plurality, my son will be able to feel at home in any Latin American country he goes to (today he said he wants to visit the country where the song Guantanamera comes from...but we'll wait for the embargo to be lifted, I guess).
His favorite part is music class. He ABSOLUTELY LOVES his music teacher, who comes twice a week to his class, is a well-known Bay Area performer and teacher at Berkeley's school of Jazz. Her rapport with the kids is amazingly professional. She treats them like little musicians and gives the kids her very best. They've had two performances this year and hopefully there's more in the making.
Why me and my wife like it? We are a multilingual household--three different languages are used at home. I am also a trained French language and Literature teacher and know that EBI's approach to language teaching will serve the children who go there well. I volunteer to help out in his classroom at least twice a month and am surprised to see how even the kids who have no one to practice Spanish with at home can now talk to me with confidence.
Have there been snags? Of course there have. The biggest was the fact that the Head of the school was also the kindergarten teacher and, unfortunately, that meant she was quite overwhelmed. But together with the support of parents and the board, she worked hard to hire a new teacher who is fully dedicated to the class and is always available for anyone who wishes to meet with her about their children. In general though, the snags have actually resulted in parents coming together to make recommendations to the board and Head to improve the school. In the process, many of us have realized that Head, parents and board are all working with a common goal: to make ESCUELA BILINGUE INTERNACIONAL the model for other Spanish bilingual schools in the country. Because parents, boardmembers and head are working together, I know that next year will be the year we go on the map for having a long waiting list. Overall, I am lucky to have found Escuela Bilingue and lucky to be part of the founding years. It would be easy to go to a well-established school that is already running smoothly and doesn't demand any effort on my part. But I think that part of my child's education should also reflect my own willingness to make a heartfelt effort to build a school for him and his classmates that embodies the values and global vision me and my family hold dear. If I am hoping that EBI will help these children change the world, why can't I reciprocate in advance and do my best to change EBI, each day, for the better? This is actually a contagious attitude I've caught from some of the people I've met there. Best regards and I hope we can also count on your family joining us! Douglas
We're the parents of a preschool boy who will be five years old in early Oct. '07. He is currently in his second year at a coop preschool and we're wondering what to do with him next year re: third year of preschool vs. kindergarten. We have been following the development and grand opening of the Escuela Bilingue in Rockridge very closely; we would love to hear from parents of pre-K and Kinder students at EBI to hear what you like about the program, any concerns, generally ''how things are going.'' Specifically, any input on how the school's size and learning environment would help/hinder a highly verbal, bright, but slow-to-warm, somewhat shy boy would be appreciated. Just FYI, he is being raised in a bilingual English/Spanish home. Thanks in advance for the input!
Our son started at EBI, and I was VERY concerned about how he'd transition - he's very slow to warm up, and is going through an intense fear-of-strangers-and-new- things stage. I met with his teacher, Angela, two weeks before school started and was immediately soothed by the way she engaged him from the get go -- she respected his space, got down on his level, and allowed him to come to her as he felt more comfortable. From day one we have been so surprised at how easily he has entered the classroom; all of his teachers (there are 4 in the youngest Pre-K class) are loving, warm, and really great with children. You'd expect that, but when I was touring schools I was surprised to see many people who did not have that skill. Our son has heard some Spanish at home, but not a lot, and has quickly picked up on all the language basics, singing, counting and responding to questions in Spanish. We have a break this week, and every morning he is saddened to learn it's not a ''go to school day''. Our son is very bright (really, not just my opinion!) and has been stimulated and engaged by all of his activities at school, from the academics to learning new social skills. We've also enjoyed the parent community at EBI, as well as the teachers and administration. All of the classes are relatively small, especially the K class, which currently has only 10 students. All classes include TAs that bring the ratio to 1:6 or 1:5, depending on the classroom and the students needs. Hope that helps - I know there is an open house tomorrow night at EBI, so you might want to check it out.
So far so good for us at EBI. We are in the younger Mid-K group at EBI. It was a tough call for us to move our child to EBI because we were very pleased with the preschool he was attending. In the end we decided to make the move so that we could be a part of the school from the start. We have found the teachers in both his classroom and the after-care program to be warm and loving and we are pleased with the variety and depth of activities and exercises available to our child. He is developing terrific friendships, great confidence in his abilities and mastery of Spanish in this true immersion program.
I have been extremely impressed not only with my child's language development, but also with his growing knowledge and appreciation for different cultures as well. Because EBI is a brand new school, I expected things to be a little chaotic at the outset, but I have been pleasantly surprised by how smoothly things have been running. That said there is definitely room for improvement. I hope that as the school year progesses and the school gets its bearings there will be better systems put in place for communicating with parents. Otherwise, we really don't have any complaints. If you choose EBI for your child I think you will find that the community is welcoming and vibrant and one in which it will be easy for you to get involved. I think EBI is really off to a great start and encourage you to keep exploring it as an option for your family. Best of luck
Happy EBI family
My almost-four-year-old son goes to EBI. He loves it, and so do his father and I. His teachers are warm and bright, the activities in his classroom are age-appropriate and stimulating, and he comes home from school jazzed about various projects the class has worked on during the day (making apple juice, building a rocket ship, etc). Although the school is already somewhat large, the student-teacher ratio in each classroom is 18:3. So, each child is getting plenty of individual attention. Teachers and administrators are responsive to parents as well, in my experience. The school community is very diverse, with children of many races, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. EBI offers need-based financial aid, so there is also some valuable socio- economic diversity that is missing in many private pre-schools. My son is coming from a Montessori environment, and EBI's program is less structured (particularly in the after-school care). I had some trepidation about how my son would respond to that change, but my concern was unwarranted; he is thriving. Of course everyone who enrolls at EBI at this stage is taking a certain leap of faith that this brand-new school will be well run. I expected a lot of bumps in the road as we all found our groove, but there have been remarkably few problems. I attribute this to the high caliber and commitment of the people running the school. The board members, the founding head (Graciela), the Preschool Director (Berta) and the Chair (Liza) are all incredibly experienced and competent. When there are problems, they seem to deal with them quickly and appropriately. Another thing that I love about the school is the sense of community. Many if not all of the families are involved in some way (improving facilities, planning the inaugural party, fund-raising, etc.), which both increases the feeling of commitment to the school and allows parents to get to know each other. It is great to walk down the hallway in the morning and exchange greetings with t familiar children and parents around you. People are genuinely EXCITED about being there. Your son is already bilingual, so you presumably don't have concerns about the immersion aspect, but my son spoke almost no Spanish when he started. He is already speaking a good deal of Spanish at home, and clearly understands much, much more based on how he responds to his teachers. I feel like I am gushing over this school (I am not a gusher), but I really think it is a wonderful place. If things continue as they are now, my family will be at EBI for the long haul. Best of luck to you in your decision.
--- Happy EBI Parent