We are a language immersion school with a focus on creating students who are fluent in English and one other language (either Spanish or French). The process of immersing students in another language for classroom learning allows students to naturally learn from the target language – and they do. Bilingualism increases brain cognition by utilizing the highest levels of thinking, focus and awareness. Bilingual children who are educated in their second language often outperform single language children in their native language.
Teachers in immersion classrooms are either native speakers of the target language or demonstrate near-native proficiency. Since students begin the process in early elementary school, their brains are physiologically primed for language learning and they learn the second language proficiency with a near-native accent. Over time, instruction in English is gradually added and, by 5th grade, students are learning 50% of the time in English and 50% of the time in the target language.
During their last year at Eisenhower, select students participate in an exchange program with schools in Spain, Costa Rica and France as part of collaborative work with Tulsa's Sister Cities organization.
The language immersion concept began in Canada with the duality of French and English within the culture. It came to the USA in the 70s by way of California to improve our educational efforts in the area of foreign language learning. Tulsa Public Schools first implemented the concept as a "school within a school" at Eliot Elementary School in 1981 to bolster flagging enrollment at that site. Students from throughout the school district could apply to participate in the immersion program.In 1991, with the passage of HB 1017 that mandated lowering class sizes, the Eliot site could no longer serve all students within the current building. By that time, neighborhood enrollment had increased due to rejuvenation of the neighborhood. The solution to the overcrowded situation was to relocate the Spanish Immersion program (145 students) to the Eisenhower site in 1992. The Spanish Immersion program became the cornerstone for the International school. The following year, French immersion was added to expand immersion opportunities due to community interest, measured through the increasing numbers of applicants for the kindergarten entry point. As the school's popularity grew, another Spanish immersion program was established at Zarrow International School in 2002.