About UsBaltimore International Academy (BIA) is a free, public charter school chartered by Baltimore City Public Schools and open to all Baltimore City residents. BIA serves students in Grades K-8. Kindergarten and First Grade are the typical entry points for immersion programs. BIA is funded by Baltimore City Public Schools, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and the United States Department of Education grant funds.
BIA offers both language immersion and the International Baccalaureate (IB) program in Grades K-8. Students choose one of five language immersion tracks (Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Russian, or French) and become fully immersed in their target language for their entire career at BIA. By the end of the program, students are bilingual and biliterate in both English and their chosen target language. Students will also have the opportunity to take another language as an elective once they reach the Middle School level.
Language immersion programs originated in Canada in the 1960s and they are designed for students who are NOT native speakers of the target language. Over 95% of BIA students speak only English at home. Students typically enter the program in Kindergarten or First Grade and the vast majority do not have any background in the target language.
In Kindergarten and First Grade, BIA students are learning to read and write in their target language only. However, in 2nd Grade, English Language Arts (ELA) is introduced as a formal subject for one hour per day. Students will go to a separate teacher who specializes in English Language Arts. Students will continue to receive ELA for one hour per day from 2nd Grade all the way through 8th Grade. While BIA introduces English in 2nd Grade, some immersion programs wait until 5th Grade to introduce English.
Homework will come home in the target language. We do not expect our parents to be proficient in the target language, and we know that the vast majority of them are not! Homework will always be a review of what was already learned in class. Parents should provide a quiet place for their students to complete homework and encourage them to complete all homework to the best of their ability. It is the teacher's responsibility to check for understanding and make sure that the student is grasping the concepts being taught. However, the teacher will usually send a homework calendar home in English so that parents know what their children should be working on each night. Homework may also be posted on the BIA website.