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Perhaps being bilingual doesn’t do quite as much we thought for the brain

February 28, 2015

Not that it’s a bad thing by any means, but it could be that it’s not the total brain-workout we’ve thought.


Is Bilingualism Really an Advantage?

The New Yorker

By Maria Konnikova

JANUARY 22, 2015


In 1922, in “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus,” the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” The words that we have at our disposal affect what we see—and the more words there are, the better our perception. When we learn to speak a different language, we learn to see a bigger world.

Many modern language researchers agree with that premise. Not only does speaking multiple languages help us to communicate but bilingualism (or multilingualism) may actually confer distinct advantages to the developing brain. Because a bilingual child switches between languages, the theory goes, she develops enhanced executive control, or the ability to effectively manage what are called higher cognitive processes, such as problem-solving, memory, and thought. She becomes better able to inhibit some responses, promote others, and generally emerges with a more flexible and agile mind. It’s a phenomenon that researchers call the bilingual advantage.

Please read more here.

We’re up to 190 Mandarin immersion programs in the US!

February 28, 2015

I just updated my school list with Seashore Academy in Costa Mesa, Calif.

That brings us up to 190 Mandarin immersion programs in the United States in 27 states and the District of Columbia.

You can see the full list here.

February 28, 2015
Updated: 2015-02-25 11:46

By Cai Chunying and Hua Shengdun in Washington(China Daily USA)

For Jule Byrd and Sean Hancock, second graders at Baltimore International Academy, Chinese New Year has added significance.

Jule and Sean were among the more than 140 pupils who staged a two-hour long performance gala in Baltimore on Monday evening, singing Chinese songs, dancing to Chinese music, acting in dramas based on Chinese tales and doing the catwalk in Chinese costumes. They are all in the public charter school’s Chinese immersion program, which covers kindergarten through eighth grade.

More than 200 school administrators, teachers and parents filled the cafeteria-turned performance hall, enjoying shows in a language that many do not understand.

“She impressed me every time she attended this kind of cultural event,” said Julius, father of Jule, who dressed in a red qipao, a traditional fitted Chinese garment for girls and women, and took part in three performances.

“My teacher sent practice clips to my mom’s email, and I used that to practice,” Jule said in Chinese. She said she also practiced during recess or intermission between classes for about one month, led by her own teacher.

In the immersion program, all subjects such as math and social studies are taught in Chinese so students become relatively proficient in the language. The academy has nine Chinese teachers. The 643-student school has immersion programs in four other languages: Spanish, French, Russian and Arabic.

Please read more here.

Orange County Mandarin program has 288 students so far

February 27, 2015
There are two Mandarin immersion programs in Orange County, Calif. The one below, and one at Fletcher Elementary in the city of Orange. The program started in 2012 and the first MIP class is now in the 3rd grade. It is a 50/50 program.

More O.C. parents turn to immersion schools to give their children an advantage in the global 21st century


How it works

Immersion programs typically begin enrolling students in the spring before the kindergarten year.

• For information about the Mandarin immersion program at Bergeson, visit bgnes-capousd-ca

• To learn about Westminster’s Vietnamese immersion program, visit

• The Irvine group lobbying for a Spanish immersion program also has a website: mybilingualchild

When the room mothers for Julie Fong’s third-grade class at Marian Bergeson Elementary School brought Fong a birthday gift, her students happily belted out the “Happy Birthday” song – in fluent Mandarin. Then, they broke into a spontaneous chant of “Da kai, da kai,” urging Fong to “Open it!”

Bergeson Elementary, in the Capistrano Unified School District, is offering the first public school Chinese immersion program in Orange County. It launched in 2012 and has grown to include 288 students in seven classes, kindergarten through third grade.

Beginning in the earliest grades, students are taught 80 percent of the day in Mandarin and 20 percent in English. In successive grade levels, that ratio drops so that by the end of elementary school, students will spend half the day being taught in Mandarin and half in English.

It’s so important to Beth Pratt for her three children to learn the world’s most spoken language that she makes a 30-minute commute from San Clemente to Bergeson each day.

Please read more here.

San Diego Chinese Language Academy Celebrates Lunar New Year

February 26, 2015

The Chinese Lunar New Year celebration is not over in San Diego. There is a special celebration at a special school.

Barnard Asian Pacific Language Academy, a Chinese language immersion school in Pacific Beach, has thrown a Lunar New Year party for the past seven years. This year, the Lunar New Year began on Feb. 19.

From the outside it looks like any other school carnival: kids singing adorably off key and smiling parents snapping pictures. But after listening closely it becomes clear the students are singing in Chinese.

Barnard Asian Pacific Language Academy kindergarteners performed in the Lunar New Year festival, Feb. 25, 2015.
Photo by Matthew Bowler
Barnard Asian Pacific Language Academy kindergarteners performed in the Lunar New Year festival, Feb. 25, 2015.

Please read more here.

Chinese TV takes a look at Mandarin immersion in Colorado.

February 25, 2015

US students being immersed in Chinese language

02-25-2015 01:44 BJT

Learning Mandarin is becoming increasingly popular around the world, with many people learning the language in the hope it will give them a competitive edge.

Close your eyes and you might think you’re in a Chinese classroom. But this is Aurora, Colorado and these kindergartners are learning a language that’s quite different from the one they were born with. Except for 50 minutes a day of English-based instruction, it’s been all Mandarin Chinese all the time for these youngsters since last August.

US students being immersed in Chinese language

US students being immersed in Chinese language

“Their little brains are just stuffed full of so much information those first couple of weeks that kids get to the car and they zonk out immediately,” said Courtney Black, the Principal of Global Village Academies.

Please read more here.

For all those new and new-ish programs out there

February 22, 2015

Or those that have new teachers. This is the sort of thing parents might have to fundraise for, but it makes a huge difference in how well your program will work.

Immersion 101 for Chinese and Japanese

An Introduction to Immersion Teaching

June 22–26, 2015 (Teacher Session) June 22–23, 2015 (2-day Admin Session)

Target Audience: Pre-service and novice K–12 Chinese and Japanese immersion teachers, administrators, district personnel or policy makers, and specialist teachers in immersion schools. It is not meant for experienced immersion teachers.

New Chinese or Japanese immersion teachers and administrators will receive a research-based introduction to the challenges, options, and issues in the unique world of immersion education (K–12). Targeted institute participants include one-way (world language) and two-way immersion educators who teach subject matter through Chinese or Japanese for 50–100% of the school day and promote continued development of English (amount of instructional time in English varies by grade level).

On the first two days, the focus will be on issues of interest to new immersion teachers and administrators. Administrators and district personnel will have an opportunity to engage with key issues in immersion program design and implementation for character-based languages, and discuss strategies for meeting those challenges with an experienced immersion administrator. During the following three days, novice teacher participants will be introduced to effective practices that inform language and literacy-attentive curriculum development and instruction with non-cognate, character-based languages whose writing system differs from English.

During this institute, you will:

  • Become familiar with the educational philosophy, research, and essential practices of immersion education as well as distinguishing characteristics and goals of various program models;
  • Connect with colleagues and strengthen your professional network;
  • Discuss the unique role immersion education plays in public education and explore leadership strategies for addressing immersion issues at the school, district, and community level;
  • Examine effective classroom management practices for immersion teachers new to teaching and learning in the U.S.;
  • Learn about best practice for character teaching and learning in immersion classrooms; and
  • Collaboratively create lesson plans that systematically attend to language and literacy development.

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