There is a new emphasis on learning foreign languages so it is no surprise to find elementary school students learning Mandarin Chinese in New York City.
Starting this fall, Forest Hills Elementary plans to offer a language immersion program that would let incoming kindergarten students study Mandarin Chinese. The program would be similar to the school’s Spanish language immersion program, which parents and school officials say gives the students a “full brain experience.”
Forest Hills Elementary decided to try to offer a Mandarin Chinese immersion program earlier this school year. Principal Deb Greenwood said she wanted to offer Mandarin Chinese because of the increasing number of people across the world who speak the language. About 20 percent of the world’s population speaks Mandarin.
When she first talked to parents about the program, “it was the dads that said, ‘Yes, I can see that in my business,'” Greenwood said. “It made sense to the dads right away.”
The program would be offered to 20 incoming kindergartners who live anywhere in New Hanover County. Students would be taught entirely in Mandarin Chinese in
kindergarten through second grades by teachers originally from China. In third through fifth grades, students would switch back and forth between Chinese and English each day. For example, if Monday’s classes were taught in English, Tuesday’s classes would be in Chinese.
To Forest Hills parents Julie Flynt and Stephanie David, who both have children in the Spanish immersion program, the language programs give their students a leg up in a world that’s becoming increasingly more global.
David’s daughters Maddie, a third-grader, and Sophie, a second-grader, have both been in the Spanish immersion program since they were kindergartners. When the family traveled to a Spanish-speaking country this summer, David said, her daughters found girls their age who didn’t speak English and started chattering away.
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