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It’s not just Mandarin, all immersion programs have issues with being seen as elitist

May 17, 2019

Dark side of school immersion programs

From: The Standard-Examiner

For the last eight years, 11 elementary schools of 60 in Davis School District, four in Weber School District, and two in Ogden School District have incorporated dual immersion programs with Spanish, Chinese, or French. To many, it is one of the highlights of the school’s education system, with experts from across the country who come to visit and see how it is done.

However, lurking behind the immersion grandeur are a significant number of frustrated parents. Issues of segregation, non-immersion students being pushed aside, non-immersion classes with too many learning disabilities weighing down teachers, and immersion programs getting treated to extra grant money.

Segregation issues

The biggest concern for Kristie Kearns, a fourth-grade parent at Morgan Elementary in Kaysville, is the division between immersion and non-immersion students. “This is the closest thing to segregation I’ve seen since the ’50s because at a normal school, when you volunteer in class or go on field trips, you get to know other moms and their kids, but at an immersion school, we can only get to know half the school,” said Kearns, who says it also extends to the kids because the immersion students and the rest don’t interact with one another during lunch or recess.

Angela Wilde, another parent of a fourth-grader at Morgan Elementary, has similar sentiments. “That’s the thing I have the hardest thing with. You work so hard to get kids to get along, and then we label them as French kids and are treated better because we throw more money at them and this is where segregation issues come up. Why can’t we make it so everybody can benefit,” asked Wilde.

Please read more here.


Kalamazoo takes first steps towards possible Mandarin immersion program

May 10, 2019

This is a preschool program, so not a full immersion program. But if it proves successful and popular, the district might expand it. 

From: Channel 8

COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Come next fall, the English spoken by 3- and 4-year-olds, many who have barely learned their ABCs, will mix with the sounds of Mandarin in one Kalamazoo-area preschool room.

Comstock Public Schools is launching a first-of-its-kind Chinese immersion school for preschoolers.

“There’s a lot of studies that show that being bilingual or multilingual has tremendous cognitive benefits. We feel the sooner we can offer that to our constituents, the better,” Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Thoenes said of the early start.

Like in immersion programs for older students, the preschoolers’ daily dialogue would be bilingual: part Mandarin, part English. But unlike the higher grade programs, there will be no writing.

“Three-year-olds, 4-year-olds, it’s too early for them to begin writing the Chinese language, the scripts,” Thoenes said. “And so it will be through music, through play, through traditional Chinese activities.”

Please read more here.

Some 1st grade homework examples from Mandarin immersion in Sacramento

May 5, 2019
Pop pop pop pop pop!

Pop pop pop pop pop! – Mandarin Immersion story 1st grade

Sonya Hendren shares these homework videos from the school her son attends in Sacramento,  the Mandarin Immersion Program at William Land Elementary.
Last year, in 1st grade, the teacher had the students record videos as homework, in order to check their individual pronunciation,  as it would take too long during class. The readings were mainly stories or passages that were pre-written, the students would practice them in class, and then record the videos as homework.
Sometimes they were fill-in-the-blank, such as “my favorite color is ____.”
If you’d like to see what first grade homework looks like in other schools, here’s a great chance to compare.
Please click here for the playlist.

Study Examines Costs of Dual Language Immersion Programs

April 27, 2019
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From New America Foundation
Sept. 28, 2018

Dual language immersion (DLI) programs—where students are given academic instruction in two languages—are becoming increasingly popular due to the economic, cognitive, and academic benefits bilingualism may confer on students.

Because DLI programs offer specialized instruction, it’s often assumed that they cost more to implement than monolingual programs. For example, they need qualified bilingual teachers who understand the different program models as well as teacher professional development. They also need curricula and instructional tools in languages other than English. Moreover, logistical costs in DLI programs need to be considered, including the process of enrollment in DLI programs, which requires the management of slots andtransportation for students in these programs. While many studies have examined the academic impact of DLI programs, there is scant research on the costs of these programs.

A new study, published in the Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis (EEPA), explores the costs of DLI programs and monolingual English programs in Portland Public Schools (PPS). The study aims to uncover differences in these programs spending over time and analyzes the processes by which these programs are connected with student achievement. Portland Public Schools (PPS) has a long history of supporting DLI and uses a lottery process for student admission into these programs. In 2012, PPS partnered with the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, RAND Corporation, and the American Councils for International Education to conduct a comprehensive study of their DLI programs, including academic impact andimplementation.

Please read more here.

Mandarin isn’t the only immersion language out there: Kwak’wala, Tlingit and Yiddish among others

April 23, 2019

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From The Juneau Empire

By February, Juneau could have a childcare program entirely in Lingít.

Haa Yoo X’atángi Kúdi is Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska’s new “language nest,” an immersive program intended to help revitalize the Tlingit language of Lingít.

After four years of development, the program is close to getting off the ground, with the goal of immersing Juneau students between the ages of 3 and 5 in the Tlingit language.

“We’re absolutely excited,” said Tlingit & Haida President Chalyee Éesh Richard Peterson. “Every day as time goes by we lose more fluent first speakers.”

The Endangered Languages Project estimates there are about 200 fluent speakers of Lingít worldwide. The Alaska Native Language Center similarly puts that figure at 175 speakers.

Please read more here.

New Indigenous immersion program launching to teach kindergartners Kwak’wala

A new language immersion program is coming to a Vancouver Island elementary school — and no, it’s not the typical Spanish or Mandarin language programs. It’s Kwak’wala.

School District 72 recently gave the green light for the new pilot project in the Kwak’wala language and culture at Ripple Rock Elementary in Campbell River.

Starting in September, kindergarten students will be immersed in the Indigenous language, which is spoken in parts of coastal B.C. including Vancouver Island.

Please read more here.


Yiddish immersion Kindergarten may come to New York City

From The Forward

Three generations ago, before the Holocaust decimated European Jewry, tens of thousands of students studied at more than a thousand secular Yiddish elementary schools dotted across Eastern Europe.

Today, there is only one secular Yiddish school in the world, and it’s south Australia.

Next year, that could change, and in a dramatic way: Secular Yiddish education might be coming to a New York City public school.

A member of the New York City Council, Mark Levine, is proposing the creation of a dual-language Yiddish-English program in a New York City public school starting in the fall of 2020. The students would spend half of their day learning in English, and half learning in Yiddish.

Read more:

Please read more here.

How Hawaiian Came Back From the Dead

A legacy of colonialism nearly wiped out the language and its culture. These immersion schools weren’t having it.

HILO, Hawai‘i—When Herring Kekaulike Kalua was a child growing up on Hawai‘i’s Big Island, his parents spoke mostly in their native language, ‘ōlelo Hawaii. English had long been the official language of government in the islands, mandated in schools and other public spaces. But Kalua’s family favored the soft vowels of Hawaiian, rejecting the harder consonants of English while they fished, hunted, and grew taro, customs their ancestors had passed down for generations.

Please read more here.

Navajo Nation School Focuses on Language Revitalization

Diné Bi’ Olta’ immerses Navajo Nation youth in Diné language and culture

From Indian Country Today


“Béédaałniih: Diné bizaad bídahwiil’aah. Táadoo biligáana k’ehjí yádaalłti’í. Ahéhee’.” These are the first words that visitors see on a sign at the entrance of Tsé Hootsooí Diné Bi’ Olta’, an elementary immersion school that teaches the Navajo language to its 133 students on the capital of the Navajo Nation.

In English, the sign means, “Remember: We are learning in Diné. Please leave your English outside. Thank you.”

Visitors coming to the school also see trophies. Lots of them. Two full trophy displays line the halls near the entrance and even more trophies sit on top of bookshelves in the library, or naaltsoos bá hooghan, as students and teachers call it.

Please read more here.

Kenya will start teaching Chinese to elementary school students from 2020

April 14, 2019

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From Quartz

By Abdi Latif Dahir 

Kenya will teach Mandarin in classrooms  in a bid to improve job competitiveness and facilitate better trade and connection with China.

The country’s curriculum development institute (KICD) has said the design and scope of the mandarin syllabus have been completed and will be rolled in out in 2020. Primary school pupils from grade four (aged 10) and onwards will be able to take the course, the head of the agency Julius Jwan told Xinhua news agency. Jwan said the language is being introduced given Mandarin’s growing global rise, and the deepening political and economic connections between Kenya and China.

“The place of China in the world economy has also grown to be so strong that Kenya stands to benefit if its citizens can understand Mandarin,” Jwan noted. Kenya follows in the footsteps of South Africawhich began teaching the language in schools in 2014 and Uganda which is planning mandatory Mandarin lessons for high school students.

Please read more here.

The Dual Immersion Solution

April 7, 2019
From Edutopia

The Dual Immersion Solution

Instead of seeing English language learners as a costly challenge, districts are increasingly recognizing the assets they bring to their schools.


Screen Shot 2019-04-07 at 5.01.14 PM

November 16, 2018

Traigan sus bocas, que vamos a cantar,” croons the man’s voice—bring your mouths, we’re going to sing. The kindergartners here at Bethesda Elementary willingly oblige. As the song plays in Spanish, they bring their ears to listen, hands to clap, and bodies to dance. But at the end of the day, the song is really about those mouths.

Attending one of Bethesda’s 10 dual-language immersion classrooms, these kindergartners spend half of each day learning English language arts and social studies in English, and the other half learning math, science, and Spanish language arts in Spanish. At the school, more than half—57 percent—of students are non-native English speakers, or English language learners (ELLs), and 9 in 10 students are low income.

Bethesda is among a growing number of Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) in Georgia offering such an opportunity. These schools aren’t alone. Driven by rapidly increasing linguistic diversity in public schools, districts throughout the country are scrambling for ways to meet the needs of ELLs, who now total nearly 5 million U.S. students—an increase of over 1 million since 2000.

Please read more here.