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Stanford study shows language immersion bolsters reading proficiency

June 5, 2015

Uploaded: Thu, Jun 4, 2015, 2:41 pm

Stanford study bolsters support for Mandarin immersion program
Researchers suggest sustained language immersion increases reading skills, proficiency

by Elena Kadvany / Palo Alto Weekly
Findings from a new Stanford Graduate School of Education study on the benefits of Ohlone Elementary School’s Mandarin immersion program might just convince any naysayers of expanding the program in Palo Alto Unified School District.

Fourth- and fifth-grade students who participate in Ohlone’s Mandarin immersion program leave with a level of linguistic competency comparable to that of Palo Alto high schoolers taking AP-level Mandarin courses, the group of Stanford researchers found. Some of the elementary school students even outperformed the teenagers in reading.

“We were really surprised how strong the immersion-language learners emerged when compared with the high school students — stronger than we had imagined,” said Amado Padilla, a professor of psychological studies in education who led the study.

Ohlone’s Mandarin immersion program began eight years ago as a controversial pilot program with only 40 students. Today, it’s an incredibly popular and in-demand program, with 124 students by the 2012-2013 school year.

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