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The report we’ll all be waiting for – out next year

October 31, 2011

What Works in Chinese Language Immersion Programs?

and immersion experts at work. (Eleise Jones)

by Eleise Jones
In order to create linguistically and culturally competent speakers of Chinese, we must have innovative and effective programs in the early grades. The opportunities and challenges of teaching Chinese to early language learners are most clearly evident in language immersion programs, which offer the most intensive course of study available for early language learners. There are a number of pioneering schools and an active cohort of practitioners in this field, and clearly an ongoing need to develop and share models of excellence and best practices, and to create and disseminate resources for teachers, students, and leaders.
Earlier this month, Asia Society convened a meeting of language acquisition experts, practitioners, and program administrators from immersion and early language programs in Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Massachusetts, California, Wyoming, Washington, DC, and New York. This two-day intensive was chaired by Vivien Stewart and Mimi Met in preparation for a report on “what’s working in Chinese immersion,” which will be released in 2012 and will address best practices and key strategies in early Chinese language and immersion. The final report will be based on the recommendations of this working group, and will include a broader representation of schools and programs throughout the U.S.
When starting an immersion program, school communities have many questions and considerations. Some of the important issues identified by the task force include: What does immersion teaching look like? What is the fundamental mission of your program? How will you identify a model program that best meets the needs of your students? What are the qualifications of a Chinese language teacher? What are the similarities and differences between Chinese immersion and more commonly taught language immersion programs, such as Spanish and French? All of these questions, and more, will be addressed in the report – stay tuned!

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