Tower of Babel

Diana’s elementary school is going to have a Chinese Immersion Program next year for select 1st graders. What? An elementary school in Utah with a Chinese language immersion program for 1st graders? Pretty amazing if you ask me. I agree that it’s important to speak a 2nd language and you can’t really argue with the selection of Mandarin Chinese seeing how it is the most spoken language in the world. That being said, it just seems a little odd having 1st graders in a Chinese language immersion program.

I took Spanish in 7th and 8th grades and, while rusty, I’m good enough to get the gist of what people are saying if I concentrate hard. Anne is taking Spanish next year and it will be fun to work with her on it. My Chinese is only good enough to get a taxi back to my hotel or to order one or two simple street dishes that I learned about while spending time in Tawain during my days in the semiconductor industry. Still, it would be fun to throw some words around with Diana and see how she is doing. Of course, Grandpa Kent speaks Chinese pretty well and he could evaluate if Diana’s progress in the program is legit.

So, what do you think? Should we sign Diana up for it?

2 Comments

  1. Lori says:

    Our district has a French immersion program at Morningside elementary. Natasha has a preschool friend in the program and the friend’s mom is very pleased with it. The immersion students will continue to progress together in the program through grade 6. If it is right there in your school, it could be a really cool opportunity for Diana.

    My concern would be not whether she actually is learning good Chinese, but whether the immersion aspect is limiting her learning of fundamentals in any way. First grade, in my opinion, is a really big step, much bigger than kindergarten. It is the first time they truly are integrated into elementary school–the first time they go all day long and where they gain reading fluency and begin learning math facts and concepts. Both of my kids have found the adjustment to first grade to be exhausting (and exciting–but the first couple of months was tough for us).

    I would try to research how a language immersion program affects those fundamental characteristics of first grade and whether it impacts how much/what they learn compared to how much/what they learn in the regular ol’ English speaking classroom.

    I don’t know–it could be that it’s a much more rigorous learning environment–she could end up in a smaller class with other motivated, excited students and great teachers–but that’s what I would look into, anyway.

  2. Kelly says:

    No question do it! You can always pull her out if you develop the concerns Lori highlighted.

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