Students are spoken to entirely in Chinese by kindergarten teacher Mei Cantrell and paraprofessional Fei Fei Zhang. Half the day is spent with a paraprofessional English language, reading, and social studies. The two teachers instruct the 42 Kindergartners in math and science, while speaking Chinese.
The school’s dual language immersion program received its fourth and final visit of the school year from state officials and foreign language consultants Monday.
Greg Barfield represented Georgia Department of Education’s World Languages and Global Initiatives Unit. He is the department’s programs specialist for international affairs.
He was joined by fellow world languages programs specialist, Michaela Clas-Nix, and contracted language consultants Myriam Met and Greg Duncan.
They sat in on the class as students demonstrated their mastery of counting to 100 and identifying coin and paper currency denominations in Mandarin.
During the visit, students responded to Cantrell’s questions, excitedly waving their hands and singing the answers.
“I think that we’ve seen a real comfort level with the way immersion classes are started,” said Met, noting teachers and students grow together in the process of teaching abstract concepts through foreign languages.
“The exciting thing about immersion is that, while the kindergarten students are here learning, they’re learning with the same standards as other students,” she added. “The students are technically learning both the content and a different language.”
Met said the dual immersion program is an example of where language learning is headed, where students will be molded into global citizens able to communicate in multiple languages.
Plural lingualism is the European model, said Duncan, noting the close proximity of countries speaking different languages in western Europe.