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How Chinese families do immersion – think boarding school

August 22, 2017

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This is a fascinating look at the other side of the coin – Chinese families working to get their children comfortable in English, just as Mandarin immersion families here work for Chinese. 

Recorder Staff

Friday, August 18, 2017


WENDELL — Even in the mind-bending “expect the unexpected” times we’re living in, and even in Wendell, it may seem a little unusual to see a red Chinese flag flying alongside an American one.

At Kemsley Academy, it makes perfect sense, especially for those six weeks a year when the Wendell Depot Road campus is home to middle-school students from mainland China. It’s one of several iterations for the academy that, beginning at the end of this month, will have a year-round counterpart on the eastern outskirts of Beijing.

The 47 students now beginning their final week in Wendell — all from Beijing’s Number 8 Middle School — have been taking classes in world history, in science-math, and in “English Four Square” — reading, writing, speaking and listening — as the climax of a year of intensive English classes they’ve been taking.

“A lot has to do with learning English, but it’s learning English by content and context,” says school director Mark Kemsley, who oversaw a similar three-week session in July and August, with 80 post-seventh and post-eighth graders from the Experimental Middle School Attached to Beijing Normal University. Both schools are among the top middle schools in all of China, he says.

“They are very sharp kids,” says Kemsley, who bought the 15-acre former Lake Grove Maple Valley School campus in 2011 and has been working to develop his school for China’s emerging middle class to train their children for college in this country.

Fresh air“The environment is so good. There is fresh air. The woods is awesome,” says Mark, a bespectacled 13-year-old student between a “world history” lesson about Roman and Greek gods and goddesses and a lunch of chicken pot pie in the cafeteria. “In Beijing, the air pollution! It’s better these days. In winter, it was awful. The air here is really nice.”

Although he’s visited California and Portland, Ore., unlike some of the students who say this is their first visit to the United States, his keen use of the language and outgoing friendliness is typical of many of those who seem eager to practice their English with a visitor to the school.

Please read more here.

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