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Language Acquisition

At Lakes International Language Academy, our mission statement specifically identifies "language acquisition" for our students. It's that important to us.

With two decades of experience in language education, we know the perfect time to learn another language starts as early as possible, and language educators agree that immersion instruction is the most effective way for students to become bilingual speakers, and biliterate readers and writers.

Being bilingual is at the center of many success stories! It  opens the door to communication with more people in more places, and provides the necessary skills to interact competently in an increasingly interdependent and interconnected world. 

Compared to their monolingual peers, immersion students typically: 

  • Score as well or better on standardized tests by 5th grade;
  • Build larger vocabularies and mastery of English grammar;
  • Show more creativity and flexible thinking;
  • Become better problem solvers;
  • Gain stronger listening and communication skills; 
  • Jump-start (or fulfill) their college language requirements, and;
  • Enhance their career marketability. 

    Adapted From: American Council on The Teaching of Foreign Languages, et. al.  

Language Acquisition Through the Years


Students experience fun, interactive learning in Spanish and Mandarin Chinese while also speaking, reading and writing in English. Learning activities are designed to spark children’s natural love of language while building confidence as communicators. Kinder Prep is a great jumpstart to the full immersion program. 

By the time LILA students reach middle school, they will have experienced over 7,000 hours of second-language instruction, conversation, reading, and writing.  

Grades K-5

Beginning in kindergarten, students experience a full-immersion classroom environment for learning Mandarin Chinese or Spanish. Teachers speak to students and deliver all lessons in target language all day, every day. English instruction is introduced in second grade and continues through fifth grade, however, the majority of the day occurs in the target language for all grade levels. Students study all of the content required to meet Minnesota standards, as well as the requirements of the IB Primary Years Programme in their target language. Homework is often provided in both English and the target language ensuring families have what they need to support learning. 

Grades 6-12

Students interested in joining the Upper School community do not need previous language experience to enroll. Monolingual students new to learning a second language will benefit from LILA’s extensive expertise in world language instruction. Students may choose from Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, or French.  Previous language-immersion students can continue immersion studies in their target language, or even add a third language. Depending on staffing, we may have language-immersion Sciences, Individuals & Societies, Maths, or Arts classes available. We also offer Language Arts classes in Spanish or Mandarin Chinese - these classes allow students to build greater skills in grammar, reading, and writing in their target language. 

My immersion experience included living with international teachers, doing an exchange program in Spain, and so many great classroom language opportunities. It helped make me more open-minded, and feel more connected to other cultures and the world around me, while also giving me lifelong language skills that will benefit my future in many ways!
                      - Emily May, Class of '21