A.C. asks from Sterling Heights, MI on January 26, 2011
Partial (Language) Immersion Kindergarten
My daughter has the opportunity to attend a partial immersion kindergarten class for Mandarin (Chinese) through our school district. Can any of you with experience in language immersion for young children give me some pointers as to the pros and cons of this? I have been told the school may or may not having a parents' night meeting to address such questions.
As a former high school English teacher who also took 14 hours of Spanish in college, I see the advantages of learning a foreign language even if you will never use it. I know it helps children learn a variety of skills beyond just the language itself, because one learns to recognize patterns in the language and in the grammar. In fact, taking Spanish taught me more about English grammar than my English grammar courses did! However, It seems that Mandarine might not have those same benefits as it is not one of the Romance languages, so it has nothing in common with English grammar, unlike Spanish, Italian, German, French, etc.
We adopted our daughter from China, so that is the main reason we are so interested in the program, but of course, the quality of her education as well as not pushing her too hard (it is an all day kindergarten!) are most important to us. If it makes any difference to know this, she can read (really read), write, count to 100 and do very simple addition and subtraction; so I'm not worried about the academics at the moment.
S.L. answers from New York on January 26, 2011
I think it is a wonderful opportunity for your daughter and I hope she participates. It sounds like she is doing well with her language skills or she would not be reading so you have nothing to worry about. I would not recommend it IF she has problems with language or is very delayed in her English language skills It will not really improve her vocab in English because it is not a romance language but research proves learning another language promotes creative thinking, and has Many benefits and the newest research says ages 3-6 is the best time to start! I cant think of any drawbacks except maybe a more difficult transition the first few weeks- but that depends on her personality and will be over quickly. I'm so jealous I would love an opportunity like that for my son who was adopted from Guatemala! I am an ESL (Elem.) teacher and work with many children learning a second language at age 5 or older. the stronger their skills in their first language the easier it is for them to learn a second language. I've met many students who were raised bilingually and are now learning a third language and doing very well because learning a second language helps them learn a third!
1 mom found this helpful
D.B. answers from Charlotte on January 26, 2011
If she can keep up with the Chinese, I'd say go for it. The wave of the future is doing business with China. She could work for an international company and be successful being bilingual.
M.D. answers from San Francisco on January 26, 2011
Lots of pros and a couple of cons IMHO.
The pros have been listed by Sandy already so I won't repeat. The main con that I found is that I had a hard time helping with homework. In our case the program is dual immersion and half of the families are Spanish speakers, which means that all meetings are conducted in both languages and there are sometimes language barriers between families (like trying to arrange a playdate). Other than those, though, my 2 oldest went through 7 years of bilingual immersion and it has benefitted them greatly.
I highly recommend such programs.
T.H. answers from Kansas City on January 26, 2011
It's a tough choice. I think if it's possible you should speak with some parents who have kids at that school already. Kids who are immersion programs are "behind" in English language skills, reading and writing until about the age of 7-8. This is normal and from what I know most of them transition fine and do become rather fluent in both languages, but this of course requires the parents to stick out the rough patches of those first few years. It is difficult socially to have a child in 1st or 2nd grader who may not be performing at the same levels as their peers that are in traditional schools.
It's really a personal choice and I think it could be a good one for her if she is Chinese, but you have to make sure you're in for the long haul.
J.W. answers from Detroit on January 29, 2011
I would go for it. She is ahead of the game in English (reading writing vocabulary) already as well as in other skills. Being immersed in a language is the best way to really learn it.
You are right that there are not going to be the similarities that there are in English and Spanish (or some others you mentioned), but I don't see that being a problem for her. I also am assuming that they will be studying some cultural aspects of China which I think are important, especially considering her heritage.
Trey was in all day kindergarten and he was fine, but he also was used to begin in day care all day. Most all day kindergartens make sure that the kids have plenty of "down time" so they don't get too worn out. It may take a week or two of adjusting though. Does she takes naps now? If so, you may want to wean off of them before she begins OR switch them to a time when she would maybe be just getting home from school.
Good luck! What ever you decide will be the right decision. IT is made with love and her best intentions! :)
V.H. answers from Detroit on January 27, 2011
I think you will find it's called Mandarin without the e!!