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one family’s experience of a year in Mandarin immersion kindergarten


For monolingual, English-speaking families, it can be a bit daunting to wrap your mind around a Mandarin immersion education for your child. How will you assist your child with schoolwork? How will you know that your child is receiving a thorough education or keeping up with peers in English-only classrooms? The Gomez family had their doubts, too.

MAYA SUGARMAN/KPCC

MAYA SUGARMAN/KPCC

“It’s really scary, actually. I’m having my doubts even until today where we’re going to school tomorrow,” she told us in August. “The scariest part about it … is just sending your kid somewhere where the teacher doesn’t speak English.”

But after one year in Mandarin immersion, they’re convinced it’s the right path for them.

Gomez said Gemma now regularly talks to her younger sisters in Mandarin, and often teaches them words or phrases. In fact, the whole family has now begun using Mandarin, coached by the kindergartener.

“When we’re playing games at home, she always incorporates Chinese into everything,” Gomez said. Gemma has even taught her family how to say “hello” and “goodbye” to Chinese restaurant waiters and shop assistants.

In the final days of school, Gomez was thrilled with how her daughter’s year had gone. “She’s not reading chapter books yet, but overall I feel very comfortable with the program and she’s on track with English and math and other categories.”

MAYA SUGARMAN/KPCC

MAYA SUGARMAN/KPCC

If you’re considering dual language immersion (DLI) education, we’d encourage you to check out the Gomez’s story (listen, read, or view the great photo slideshow) from Southern California Public Radio.

Like the Gomez family (and the Moeller family in West Michigan), it’s completely normal to have questions and concerns about dual language immersion education. For most American families, DLI represents a completely new educational paradigm. The good news is that there are answers to your questions, and many trailblazing families have walked the path before you.

If you find yourself feeling like the Gomez or Moeller family before they began their journey into DLI education, feel free to leave a question in the comment section or tweet to us @addalingua. We’re here to help.

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