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Top 5 myths about Mandarin immersion schools

February 4, 2018

This comes for the blog of Virginia Duan, a Taiwanese American blogger who writes on identity, homeschooling, Chinese/English bilingual education and raising multi-ethnic kids among other topics.

Duan speaks Mandarin and is teaching it to her kids, so she faces a different set of challenges and opportunities than non-Chinese speaking parents hoping to have their kids learn Chinese.

That said, she makes excellent and very cogent points about exactly what Mandarin immersion programs can and cannot do. Her piece is well worth reading.

Which isn’t  to say that kids from English-speaking homes in Mandarin immersion programs won’t learn Chinese. But she’s absolutely right, they won’t be fluent and they won’t be literate.

Still, they can end up pretty darn good. Our youngest child is now in 9th grade and is taking 2nd year college Chinese at San Francisco City College as part of the San Francisco Unified School District’s Chinese Flagship program. Both kids are comfortable if not fluent Chinese speakers. Enough so that they’ve both said they’d be up for trying for internship in China or Taiwan during the summers.

So the message here is that the glass is half full – a solid immersion program pursued through high school should result in students who are strong Mandarin speakers and culturally comfortable in a Chinese-speaking environment. The half-empty side of things is that they won’t read well at all (but then many Chinese speakers in the U.S. don’t read Chinese that well either) and they won’t be fluent.

All things considered, it’s a pretty sweet deal. As long as you don’t have unreasonable expectations. But I’ll let Virginia talk about that…


Top 5 myths about Mandarin immersion schools

[From Mandarin Mama]

myths mandarin immersion school

I would like to say that I’m a practical and reasonable person. (Well, except when I’m not. But then, aren’t we all?) I totally understand that everyone who wants their kids to learn Chinese is NOT going to be homeschooling bilingually in Chinese and English.

I get that.

For many folks, their best option for teaching their kids Chinese will be a local (or not so local) Mandarin Immersion school. Despite what you may think, I consider Chinese immersion programs a totally legitimate option for many families. In some cases, perhaps the best option.

After all, depending on the program, your child will be surrounded by Chinese speaking adults all day and learn many subjects in Chinese as well as English. It’s a nice way to ease in newly immigrated children as well as teach a really hard language in a somewhat less arduous way.

Please read more here.

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