“We often look at immersion and see the outside, which is still amazing. But what I’m beginning to notice is that there’s an inside change that happens with these kids too. They begin to see the world differently.”
Even though Mandarin immersion seemed intimidating at first, I now view it as a breath of fresh air. It is so exciting to dream of the possibilities that await these kids whose accent sounds like they’re from China, but they look like they’re from the Netherlands. I am so glad I didn’t let my fears or need for control turn me away from this incredible opportunity.
“In immersion, I have to step back and trust. Trust the teachers, trust the immersion process. And, I must be patient as I watch my child learn at a pace different than what I’m used to, but at exactly the right pace for immersion.”
The funny thing is, my kids don’t see Mandarin as a difficult language. We had to look up which language was the hardest for an English speaker to learn in order for my son to believe us. And even then, he still questions it. In case you’re wondering, Mandarin is the hardest language for a native English speaker to learn.
The importance of a language specific approach to literacy has just been underscored by a new study from Claude Goldenberg of the Stanford Graduate School of Education. The study finds that awareness of individual letter sounds, which is the foundational skill for early literacy instruction in English, isn’t as important when teaching beginning readers in Spanish.
I am so thankful that we took a leap of faith and enrolled our children in an early total one-way Mandarin Chinese immersion program. BUT…this type of education–so foreign (pardon the terrible adjective) from the way I was raised–produces many questions.
It’s not every day that one of the nation’s foremost researchers in the field of dual language immersion gathers with our team and visits our founding partner school. So when Dr. Tara Fortune, director of the Immersion Research and Professional Development Program at CARLA, joined us in January, we made proverbial hay.
On January 26, add.a.lingua will welcome Dr. Tara Fortune to west Michigan for a program observation at Zeeland Christian School as teachers there implement the add.a.lingua Mandarin Chinese instructional frameworks.
Above all, it’s important to keep in mind that Chinese cuisine isn’t just about the food; it is also a way to learn about ordinary life in China over the past 5,000 years.