St. Louis Language Immersion School (SLLIS)


Common Questions About SLLIS

What is a charter school?

Charter schools are publicly funded, independently operated schools. Some charter schools are stand-alone institutions, while others operate as part of larger school networks, such as St. Louis Language Immersion School. Every charter school has an authorizer that is responsible for holding charter schools accountable for compliance with their operating agreements (“charters”). The University of Missouri St. Louis is the authorizer for SLLIS.

Like all public schools, charter schools are:

  • Tuition-free and open-enrollment
  • Non-sectarian and non-discriminatory
  • Funded primarily through a combination of federal, state and local tax dollars
  • Held to state and federal academic standards

What is SLLIS’ history?

SLLIS opened in 2009 with two elementary programs serving kindergarten to fifth grades (K-5): The French School and The Spanish School. We soon grew to include The Chinese School (K-5) and The International School (grades 6-8). The three elementary schools follow the internationally recognized “Primary Years Programme” of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Organization and operate as authorized IB schools. Read more here about our education approach.

Who can attend SLLIS?

Any St. Louis City resident and eligible residents of Voluntary Transfer Program school districts Affton, Bayless, Brentwood, Clayton, Hancock Place, Kirkwood, Ladue, Lindbergh, Mehlville, Parkway, Pattonville, Ritenour, Rockwood, Valley Park or Webster Groves in St. Louis County.

What is the cost of tuition?

Each school is offered free of tuition for all students.

What is the school’s framework?

The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP) is an international educational framework designed for students aged 3 to 12 years. The core goal of the “Primary Years Programme” is to enable students to construct their own meaning during lessons by connecting the content with their personal experiences. The PYP helps children develop strong character and positive attitude. In each unit of study, students are encouraged to apply the material they have learned to their personal lives and impact their local communities.

Questions About Language Immersion Learning

What is language immersion?

Language immersion programs teach students all subjects in a language other than the dominant language spoken in the community. In every SLLIS elementary school 100 percent of instruction is conducted in the immersion language.

When will students learn English?

Students first learn to read and write in the immersion language and then learn to read and write in English. Typically, formal English language education will begin midway through second grade and continue through fifth grade.

Is prior knowledge of the immersion language required to enter the school?

No. It is expected that the majority of students will come from English-only speaking households. The immersion program is designed to teach children who do not have any prior immersion language knowledge.

How will my child respond to total immersion?

Research shows that young children adjust well to immersion settings, especially when surrounded by peers facing the same challenge.

Also, the developing minds of children acquire language rapidly, allowing them to easily identify and reproduce sounds that don’t exist in their native language. Total immersion schools such as SLLIS take full advantage of this natural language acquisition.

How long will it take for my child to become fluent in the immersion language?

We use the natural language acquisition method. Students in our schools develop their new language in a predictable pattern like they did their language at birth: silence, babbling, one word, two words, memorized phrases, then original expression. During the first 18 months of immersion teachers expect students to developing this pattern of language production and expect that students will speak English and add more new words as they progress. After 18 months, each school has a language celebration where every child is expected to communicate entirely in the immersion language all day. Some students will reach this level much sooner than 18 months, but we allow for everyone to reach their language explosion before requiring complete language use.

Will language immersion students be able to attend traditional American schools later?

Language immersion students successfully transition to all-English school environments. Each SLLIS school meets or exceeds both state and federal content expectations.

Questions About Results at SLLIS

How does SLLIS share student achievement data with the general public?

You can find our MAP score data on the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Educationhere. On the drop-down menu for district, search for “ST. LOUIS LANG IMMERSION SCHOOL (115912).”

What other assessments are currently being used at SLLIS?

All schools and all grade levels will take the NWEA test. Our schools also use language-specific tests, such as the YCT (Youth Chinese Test) for student assessments.

How does SLLIS compare to other schools across the nation?

There is no apples-to-apples comparison for immersion schools in the country. Much differs by methodology and language. We use language-specific tests, such as the YCT (Youth Chinese Test) for student assessments, in addition to the NWEA.

Questions About Enrollment

How does enrollment work?

SLLIS will begin accepting applications to Kindergarten, first grade, and sixth grade for the 2016-2017 school year on October 1, 2015. For priority enrollment, all student applications must be received on or before the deadline of Wednesday, February 10, 2016. In the event that the school receives applications from eligible students that exceed the school’s’ capacity, the school will conduct a lottery for the available enrollment space on Friday, February 12th, 2016.

For students who enroll after February, completed applications will be processed and approved on a first-come, first-served basis. Please note that to enter kindergarten, a child must be 5 years old by October 1 of the incoming school year. Enrollment priority is given to siblings of students who already attend the school, and for the children of school employees. All students must apply to be considered for enrollment.

Families of kindergarteners and first graders have the opportunity to choose to attend The Chinese School, The French School or The Spanish School. Families can select one of three schools or rank each school by preference when applying.

Sixth grade families applying to The International School’s Middle Years Program have the opportunity to choose between the Spanish and the French partial language immersion program. The partial-language immersion program is available to any incoming 6th grader living in an eligible area. We do not require any language experience prior to enrolling.

Are there admissions requirements?

There are no admissions requirements for kindergarten and first graders, as long as the correct documentation is included with the application.

For new applicants in second through fifth grade, students must have attended a school during the last calendar in which 50 percent or more of instruction is conducted in the target language of the school of application.

New applicants to The International School who have attended a school during the last calendar year in which 30 percent or more of instruction is conducted in the target language are eligible to apply for grades seventh through eighth. The enrollment application for The International School also requires students and their parents participate in and provide their observations of a full preview day of immersion instruction.

Former SLLIS students are eligible to apply for re-enrollment at any grade level at the SLLIS school in which they were enrolled during the previous school year.

Can I take a tour?

Yes. If you come to one of our daytime tours, you’ll get to see the kids and staff in action as they learn several subjects in their immersion language through a variety of teaching techniques. The tour starts with a presentation, followed by a tour and Q&A session. We also offer evening tours for those unable to make it during the day.

In addition to tours, we offer an open house a few times per year. It’s a great opportunity to get to know the SLLIS community, classroom and our educational philosophy, as well as our staff, teachers and administrators.

If you are interested in attending a tour or open house, please sign up here: Tour & Open House Sign-Up.

How can I enroll my child at SLLIS?

You can now apply to enroll your child in kindergarten, first grade and sixth grade for the 2016-2017 school year. For priority enrollment, all student applications must be received on or before the deadline of Wednesday, February 10, 2016.

Download it here: 2016 – 2017 Application

To apply, submit the completed application and requested documentation to:

4011 Papin St.
St Louis, MO 63110

If you have questions, please contact (314) 533-0975.

The following documents are required for enrollment:

  • Birth certificate
  • Most recent immunization records
  • Two proofs of residence. This can include rent, or mortgage agreement, utility bill, Board of Election notice, tax forms, bank statement. (Please contact us if you’re moving to St. Louis from out of state.)
  • Notarized affidavit (form is included in application)

Will there be an enrollment lottery?

In the event that the school receives applications from eligible students that exceed the school’s’ capacity, the school will conduct a lottery for the available enrollment space on Friday, February 12th, 2016.

What is the teacher to student ratio?

Each kindergarten class has one teacher and one assistant teacher for up to 25 students. This yields a ratio of 1:12. Similarly, 1st and 2nd grade classes have one teacher and one teacher intern for up to 25 students, which yields a ratio of 1:12.

Other Questions about SLLIS

Do SLLIS schools have art, music, and P.E.?

Every week, each class will receive integrated instruction from visual art, music, physical education and science exploration specialists in the immersion language.

Is there an after-school program offered?

The Boys and Girls Club, a long-time leader in youth programming, is facilitating after-school care for SLLIS.

How does SLLIS accommodate gifted students and/or students with special needs?

The PYP is particularly well suited to support the accelerated learning needs of gifted students. The total immersion program allows gifted students to make further academic progress through enhanced language development and problem solving. SLLIS also provides Special Education services to all students who qualify.

Questions About Faculty and Staff

What are the qualifications for a teacher at SLLIS?

All SLLIS teachers are required to be “Highly Qualified” as defined by the No Child Left Behind Act. In addition to these academic requirements, SLLIS teachers will demonstrate a commitment to the success of all of our students and families, be native or near-native speakers of their language of instruction, and be experienced teachers of early childhood or elementary education.