How do we know that MI really works?
Original post made by ShowMe, South of Midtown, on Feb 3, 2007
How has it been shown that Mandarin Immersion really is an effective teaching strategy? We know that Spanish immersion works in Palo Alto, but why do we think that MI will work here? We hear that MI works in Cupertino but does "works in Cupertino" mean the same thing as "works in Palo Alto". Does MI really turn out kids with more global awareness, or just kids who can speak a second language? How do you measure that?
Can you compare MI with SI when these two languages are so different? For example, Spanish uses the same alphabet as English does, Chinese is character driven. Someone said that proficiency in Spanish takes 750 hours of study, but proficiency in Chinese takes mroe than 2000 hours of study.
Can we compare CLIP's efficacy in Cupertino to what might happen in Palo Alto? Does MI really work in Cupertino? What do we mean by "really work". Does really work mean that it takes lots of extra homework for kids to keep up in Cupertino. Would we be willing to do that here? Are kids who don't hear any Chinese at home really fluent in Chinese at the end of 5th grade? And if they are, have they sacrificed English comprehension or math and science?
Do the kids from MI programs really grasp math and science in the same way that kids do who learn in English (when English is their native language)? When you look at the evaluation report in Cupertino it appears that the test scores go up every year, but the attrition rates go up too... how has evaluation strategy accounted for survivor bias? Are attrition rates higher in immersion programs than they are in neighborhood or other choice schools?
What about the creative thinking skills that are supposed to come from immersion programs... Is this documented in MI or is it assumed from SI?
So, someone please tell me, does MI really work? How do we know? And what do we mean by really works? I'm very curious.