About BIA West
Baltimore International Academy West (BIA West), which opened in 2019, is a free public charter school chartered by Baltimore City Public Schools and open to all Baltimore City residents and is a replication of the Baltimore International Academy that opened in 2007.
BIA West offers language immersion and is a candidate for the International Baccalaureate (IB) program in the Primary and Middle Years Programs.
Students' families choose one of three language immersion tracks:
Students become fully immersed in their target language for their entire academic career at BIA West. 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. BIA West currently has a partial Spanish Immersion program for Middle School and accepts applications for new students in 6th and 7th grades. These students experience two subjects taught through Spanish Language Immersion (Language Acquisition and Individuals and Societies, AKA Social Studies). The rest of their subjects, Math, Science, and Resources, are taught in English.
History of Language Immersion
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 West 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.
Learning English at an International School
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 West 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 West website.