News

Stanford study bolsters support for Mandarin immersion program

Researchers suggest sustained language immersion increases reading skills, proficiency

Findings from a new Stanford Graduate School of Education study on the benefits of Ohlone Elementary School's Mandarin immersion program might just convince any naysayers of expanding the program in Palo Alto Unified School District.

Fourth- and fifth-grade students who participate in Ohlone's Mandarin immersion program leave with a level of linguistic competency comparable to that of Palo Alto high schoolers taking AP-level Mandarin courses, the group of Stanford researchers found. Some of the elementary school students even outperformed the teenagers in reading.

"We were really surprised how strong the immersion-language learners emerged when compared with the high school students — stronger than we had imagined," said Amado Padilla, a professor of psychological studies in education who led the study.

Ohlone's Mandarin immersion program began eight years ago as a controversial pilot program with only 40 students. Today, it's an incredibly popular and in-demand program, with 124 students by the 2012-2013 school year.

The Stanford researchers have been studying the program since its inception, producing in 2013 a research paper that showed how the Ohlone Mandarin immersion students were not falling behind in mathematics, science and other subjects and performed as well as their non-immersion peers on standardized tests.

For this new study – the first to compare exiting elementary immersion students in any language with high schoolers studying the same language, Stanford said – the researchers looked at 48 Ohlone students, 20 of whom were "heritage learners," meaning they were raised in a home where Mandarin is spoken, or they understand Mandarin to some degree. They tested this group and compared them to 119 high school students taking AP Mandarin, 71 of whom are heritage learners. All students were tested in listening, reading, writing and speaking Mandarin using a STAndards-based Measurement of Proficiency (STAMP) test.

Another interesting finding was that there was little difference between Ohlone's heritage learners and those who had no previous exposure to the language.

The study found that only a few non-heritage speakers in the high school world language program continued to AP Level 5, yet most non-heritage speakers who remained in the immersion program for the full duration performed as well, or nearly as well, as the heritage speakers when exiting the program.

The researchers do, however, note that the study drew from a relatively small sample size and from upper-middle class suburban students in a "district known to be excellent." They called for more studies on the topic.

The Stanford study comes on the heels of the Palo Alto Board of Education's decision earlier this year to, for the first time, offer Mandarin immersion at the middle school level, bringing a gap in curriculum that many students and parent previously struggled to bridge on their own.

Jordan Middle School, which also houses a Spanish immersion program, will host the pilot program this fall. Modeled after the Spanish program, the pilot Mandarin class would be offered for one hour, four days a week, to students who graduated from the Ohlone program.

"The new research data lends support for Mandarin courses at the middle-school level to position 5th grade immersion graduates to advance to a higher level of Mandarin proficiency once they reach high school, where advanced placement programs are increasingly common," the university press release reads.

And Palo Alto is not alone: The number of Chinese language programs in the United States for learners of all ages, from elementary school through adulthood, has dramatically increased in the past two decades, the study notes. This number tripled between 1995 and 2005 and has continued to increase during the last 10 years. By June 2014, approximately 149 schools – mostly elementary – offered Mandarin immersion programs, with the largest number on the West Coast.

However, one argument against such programs is that they "spend education dollars on too few students at the expense of a school's larger population," the university noted in its press release.

Padilla said he hopes the new research findings can be used to plan, roll out and sustain "well-articulated sequential learning programs that begin in the early grades and continue throughout students' K-12 learning experience," the press release notes.

Comments

93 people like this
Posted by still an unfair program
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 4, 2015 at 3:51 pm

I was glad to see this "However, one argument against such programs is that they "spend education dollars on too few students at the expense of a school's larger population," the university noted in its press release." although it was buried at the end of the article.

Of course the kids are doing well learning Mandarin in a well funded program in an excellent school district. But except for the Spanish Immersion program, THOUSANDS of other PAUSD elementary students get NO language classes.


93 people like this
Posted by Exclusion
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 4, 2015 at 4:54 pm

This kind of exclusionism just promotes cliques--of which there are already too many in PAUSD.


39 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 4, 2015 at 10:51 pm

I don't think anyone wants to quibble about the value of early second language programs. The results of this study are not that surprising.

What the "naysayers" have always said that having programs for lucky lottery winners and giving zilch to the rest of the elementary population is unfair and divisive.

Let's be honest here, if foreign language has all this value, then of course it should be available to all, not just a small group (some of whom already speak the target language). But, the wording of the conclusions of this study is false since the "naysayers" already know the value and want it for all.


38 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 5, 2015 at 12:30 am

Hmmm, yes, test the fourth and fifth graders after the kids who don't measure up have been conveniently diverted to Ohlone-main.

Unless the study deals with the attrition rate in the lower grades, it's not accounting for the self-selection bias--i.e. the good students remain, the ones who would have brought down the numbers have been winnowed out.

And why is this program still at Ohlone, which has 600-plus students? Why isn't it at Greendell? Or why hasn't Green Gables opened?

All the problems this program originally created remain--overcrowding a school severely, limiting the expansion of Ohlone main, which is in greater demand than MI. And, of course, doing *nothing* for most students in the district.

No wonder Camille Townsend was its biggest booster.


4 people like this
Posted by Pat Markevitch
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 5, 2015 at 7:45 am

OPar, please clarify which elementary school you were referencing about not being open?

Green Gables is open but is now called Duveneck. (north PA)

Greendell has various programs in it and is leased out (next to Cubberley)

Ventura: leased to PACCC (near Fry's)

Garland leased to Stratford (next to Jordan)

Fremont Hills leased to Pinewood (in Los Altos Hills)


68 people like this
Posted by A
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 5, 2015 at 11:51 am

I have to agree with all that is being said about the language program in Palo Alto. It is totally unfair to all the other students who do not get this special benefit. Of course kids who learn a language when they are young will probably do as well as those who learned it later.

What the school district needs to do is revamp their idea of elementary education and include language, art and music in a consistent way in addition to reading, writing and arithmetic. Save all the bells and whistles for the Middle and High School students. By adding these three subjects you will open up more neurons in the brain so that they will be able to succeed better.

Teaching Spanish would be a perfect language to start with throughout the district as it is easy to learn. Even the kids who already speak Spanish make lots of mistakes in their writing. So, this would only strengthen ability in this language.


Like this comment
Posted by bill1940
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 5, 2015 at 12:10 pm

太好了!Super ... Languages are extremely important. The US is so globally s far behind now it is pitiful.


47 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 5, 2015 at 12:40 pm

I know this study is true. We all know that learning a second language benefits ALL children. I deeply disagree with both Spanish Immersion and Mandarin Immersion being exclusive and for the few "lottery winners". This is a Public school district. All our children deserve the bet. Not just the few. When will languages be taught to all in elementary school?


51 people like this
Posted by muttiallen
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 5, 2015 at 1:00 pm

muttiallen is a registered user.

I was on a PAUSD committee about 25 years ago when a couple of School Board members wanted some kind of language proficiency test for graduation from Gunn or Paly. After months of studying various options (in the Palo Alto way) the committee whole heartedly agreed that the best way to make 2nd language proficiency happen was to start 2nd language instruction for ALL elementary and middle school students. The Board ignored that recommendation, voted in a language proficiency test, and then scuttled the whole program 3 years later when almost none of the high school students could pass the test after 2 or 3 years of HS class time.

PAUSD still doesn't get the big picture. EVERY student K-12 should have foreign language instruction at least weekly!


82 people like this
Posted by Marcie
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 5, 2015 at 1:01 pm

Stanford has a vested interest in the Mandarin Program, since Stanford helped finance it during the first two years. If a study is needed, it should be done by an uninterested party.

Also, Mandarin isn't a good fit for Ohlone. It should have been set up at Hoover. Chinese parents have different expectations than those parents choosing the Ohlone philosophy.

I agree with the others that all elementary students should be having language classes not just a chosen few. As it is now the system is unfair and I'm surprised other parents aren't unset about it.


27 people like this
Posted by Back to Stanford
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2015 at 4:50 pm

When I went to middle school and high school in Cupertino, the Mandarin Language Program was an " honors only" program. A student had to have very good grades and letters of recommendation from two teachers to get in. The books, the program, the tests, and the teachers were all from Stanford.

Eventually, the program was dropped for lack of interest. Now that the Cupertino District is mostly Asian, the Chinese parents send there kids to after school and weekend Mandarin Schools--very costly.


69 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2015 at 7:48 pm

Based on PAUSD's spending habits, it could easily fund language immersion for all K-5 students but it's priorities are elsewhere.


11 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 5, 2015 at 10:59 pm

Pat,

Sorry, I meant Garland, which is in the Green Gables area. The JCC leased part of Greendell and then left when the larger JCC opened--there was an option then to open immersion programs there. In fact, one parent group recommended it.

The Stratford lease also came up and there was a push to open an elementary school there because of the obvious overcrowding at the elementaries, but our district loves its rent income more than it loves creating a healthy school environment, so the district passed on it--even though we voted in a bond measure that would have retrofitted Garland up to code.

Why does our district continue to provide buildings for private schools when we have a district *that* needs that space? There are multiple uses for the Garland site--as a neighborhood elementary, as a choice school--put the two immersion programs there; it's outrageous that neighborhood kids at Escondido get bumped from their own school because of SI. Even if the board continues to insist on the new normal of overcrowded elementaries (despite the substantial evidence that smaller schools are better for younger kids), Garland could be used as an annex for the overcrowded Jordan.

Fact is, no kid in PA needs a dual-immersion MI program. We don't have a bunch of kids here who speak Mandarin, but not English. The dirty little secret of the "in-demand" program is that there's a chronic shortage of native Mandarin speakers. Dual-immersion programs were designed to make things easier for ESL kids--not as a perk for a few kids in a public-school district.

And, yes, A is right--Spanish is a natural choice as a second language introduced in elementary school for all kids.


69 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 6, 2015 at 9:38 am

Mandarin Immersion is way too exclusive for a public school and PAUSD should not be catering to one group only. All students should have the same opportunities. Isn't that what PAUSD strives for?


78 people like this
Posted by Illuminato
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2015 at 9:53 am

So they did a study and found that taking Mandarin classes helps you learn Mandarin. Oooooohkaaaaay. What's it's really all about is that the kids need to learn Chinese because there's no way grandma is learning English.


6 people like this
Posted by stanhutchings
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 7, 2015 at 4:13 pm

I would definitely agree to expanding immersion programs by adding other languages. My personal preference would be Japanese, as my granddaughters have Japanese heritage and relatives in Japan we would like to visit, and have visit us. Mandarin and Spanish would NOT be helpful. I suspect Japanese mothers in the area would volunteer to assist, if not teach, classes. I think census data should be consulted to determine what languages should be added, with special attention to the largest population of foreign born (so for sure Spanish and Mandarin, but how about Cantonese? Japanese? Others?)
Many studies confirm that a second language is beneficial for learning, not just for proficiency in a language, but increased brain function. Similarly with music and art. BTW, all I've heard about sports is traumatic body and brain injury, extreme competitiveness resulting in fights - never heard about such goings on with HS bands, choirs, and orchestra performances.


3 people like this
Posted by Bruce
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 7, 2015 at 10:22 pm

China is 1 in 6 people in the world. About 100 million rich Chinese want to emigrate because of pollution and government control. We buy houses in Vancouver all of California and Australia. If Chinese are majority then the language should reflect this. When Chinese majority in Palo ALto the language will follow. History has many such examples of mass migration. This is one. Chinese are the most dominant group by virtue of our numbers. Education has to respond.


26 people like this
Posted by Skeptical
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 7, 2015 at 10:30 pm

Skeptical is a registered user.

I never thought it was a good idea to offer immersion programs in the extremely limited manner it was done. I don't see why other groups don't demand to have a language immersion program for their favorite language.

People always have the opportunity to put their kids in language programs if they so chose after school, on weekends, and in summer.


122 people like this
Posted by Oh, Bruce.....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2015 at 1:43 pm

English has become the language of trade and diplomacy, as French once was before it.

However, if the people of China who come to America were not so rude, bossy, insulting, entitled, and cliquish to the point of racist exclusionism, Americans might be more amenable to Mandarin Immersion--IF it were available to EVERYONE.


70 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 8, 2015 at 2:19 pm

>> Chinese are the most dominant group by virtue of our numbers.

Considering the lack of democracy in China, it's interesting that you make this argument?
Thinking about it, maybe there should be another criteria, maybe the social and geographic
diversity and world-wide acceptable of a language might want to be taken into account?


62 people like this
Posted by Oh, Bruce
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2015 at 1:25 pm

Bruce: you may wish to read the other posts on this thread, as well as the posts on the thread about H-1B Visas. I think you will find it insightful, informative, and educational.


5 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 9, 2015 at 3:35 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@OPar

"Dual-immersion programs were designed to make things easier for ESL kids--"

That's not my understanding, but you may have information that I'm not aware of. This description from the U. of Minnesota Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition is one I recognize from discussion of both Spanish/English and Mandarin/English dual immersion programs in Mountain View, Palo Alto and other locations in the
Bay Area.

"Two-way immersion is designed to serve both English and non-English speakers. The latter group will usually make up 25 to 50 percent of the student body. Children from each language group are mixed in the same classroom. The goals of two-way immersion are for both language groups to become bilingual, succeed academically, and develop positive inter-group relations."

You may be right that "no kid in PA needs a dual-immersion MI program" to succeed in Palo Alto schools. But there is a demand for it, just as there has been for the dual-immersion Spanish program since its inception. It's good to have evidence that the program appears to be meeting the goals set out above in the U. of MN's description . I'd welcome more information, both positive and negative, about how it's worked out to this point at Ohlone.


43 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 9, 2015 at 8:08 pm

Jerry,

The whole idea of dual-immersion in schools came about as a way to get ESL kids fluent in English without losing ground in subjects such as math. That was the motivation behind the original push for dual-immersion programs *and* what the early studies focused upon. Thus, when people talked about how wonderful and effective dual-immersion was for kids, they would cite studies which studied how well ESL kids did in the program v. ESL kids who were mainstreamed from the get-go.

As for the "demand"--what we have in this district are a series of boutique programs that cater to the few at the expense of the many. MI takes up the places that were intended for an expansion of the even-more-in-demand Ohlone main. The expasion of SI bumps neighborhood kids from their neighborhood school forcing parents to trek cross town to lower-ranked schools. Unlike Hoover or Ohlone-main, immersion programs can't compensate for attrition past the first couple of grades, making them inefficient in terms of classroom use in a district facing severe overcrowding.

Bruce,

[Portion removed.] I'll simply point out that there's major language loss by the third generation in the U.S. I know plenty of Chinese-Americans who don't speak any Chinese language. Even among Spanish-speakers, you see this kind of generational attrition.


25 people like this
Posted by a parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2015 at 8:52 pm

I think if summer immersion classes were available to all in several languages, with some support during the year, this issue might cease to be so divisive.

We could afford it if we just got rid of blood-sucking lawfirms that lead our gullible administrators down the broken glass trail, and the administration woke up and realized their fracking job is to serve students.


14 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 10, 2015 at 12:41 am

a parent,

This isn't an issue I blame on the lawyers--though Camille Townsend's interest in the precious few at the expense of the many was certainly in play at the time.

Yes, there are a *lot* of alternatives that could have worked. We actually have many private affordable programs that offer Mandarin around here. Summertime immersion programs would certainly be a viable option, particularly if they were supported by an afterschool Wednesday class during the school year.

All affordable, all doable, all workable--but these options don't offer the glitz and funding of the precious MI program at Ohlone.

I'll point out that because MI is at Ohlone and the school has over 600 kids with a huge waiting list for Ohlone-main that MI will continue to benefit only a few kids in the forseeable future. The program can't actually expand unless it's moved and Ohlone MI parents have tantrums at school board meetings any time it's been suggested (and it has) that the program be moved--Greendell being the last suggestion.

I think you'd see less anger over the program if a) it and SI were moved to their own location (though that would take a proactive school board that thinks longterm) and, yes, b) if foreign-language options were available for *all* students. Spanish seems the obvious one to me, (Bruce seems to be unaware of the actual demographics of Santa Clara County and California) but there are many possibilities.


4 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 10, 2015 at 11:28 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@OPar,

"The whole idea of dual-immersion in schools came about as a way to get ESL kids fluent in English without losing ground in subjects such as math."

Dual-immersion programs have drawn their support from two very different populations: 1) dominant language (in this case English) families who want their children to learn another language in depth while meeting grade-level learning standards in all subjects, and 2) heritage language (in Palo Alto's case Spanish and Chinese) families who want their children to retain and build on proficiency in their first language while they are learning English and meeting grade-level standards in all subjects.

I'm glad to hear voices calling for another look at foreign language instruction for all at the elementary school level (FLES). Up till now, there hasn't been a vision of FLES capable of generating sufficient support to make it happen. Dual immersion choice programs are not depriving Palo Alto of FLES. If anything, they are a reminder of the benefits of bilingualism, however and to whatever extent acquired, and a stimulus for reviving interest in early foreign language instruction.

The study described in the P.A Weekly article contains good news and supports the decision of the board to provide an opportunity for MI students to continue taking Mandarin in middle school as a bridge to the Mandarin offerings already in place at the high school level.


11 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 10, 2015 at 11:54 am

Jerry,

You're being disingenuous--the reason for the support in PA is a different matter than why dual-immersion programs were developed by educators. As I pointed out above, the dirty little secret of both dual-immersion programs is the chronic shortage of native-language speakers of both Spanish and Mandarin. The ESL speakers are nearly all native English speakers. Even when you include kids are "fluent" in Mandarin or Spanish via the nanny route, there's still an issue in getting enough of them.

There have been numerous proposals for foreign language instruction that would be accessible to *all* kids. Grace Mah claimed, for instance, that she would work for that after she used the charter threat to get her way on MI. Didn't happen, of course.

So let's quit pretending that the immersion programs have benefitted anyone except a small number of kids who didn't actually need them to thrive in the public school system. Oh, and a couple of academics at Stanford.

I'll just add that the Weekly's blurb up above shows that the writer didn't take the time to go back and find out exactly what the objections to MI are.


4 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 10, 2015 at 9:50 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

OPar,

The arguments for and against the Spanish and Mandarin dual immersion programs are the same now as they were in 2007, and you're right to suggest a look back at the early threads on this topic for context.

What's different is that now there's data from seven years of experience to show that the elementary MI program works. Another difference is the demographic shift in PAUSD since 2007 towards families with Chinese backgrounds. You argue that there's been difficulty keeping enough native Mandarin speakers in the program for it to function as designed, yet the results have been positive all the same. Perhaps the Stanford studies will make more Mandarin-speaking parents feel comfortable enrolling their students in the MI program and leaving them in through fifth grade.

In my opinion, nothing about the two dual immersion programs rules out FLES (Foreign Language in Elementary Schools) for all students who are not enrolled in SI and MI. FLES backers should develop their case, gather supporters and campaign vigorously to make it happen in tandem with the existing dual immersion choice programs.


70 people like this
Posted by For Every Child
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 12, 2015 at 2:12 pm

I am all in favor of this ONLY if it is available to every child who wants to participate. Otherwise it is unfair, Undemocratic, UnAmerican, and inappropriate for a public school system. Period.


4 people like this
Posted by Lynn Ware
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 12, 2015 at 9:53 pm

Hooray and kudos!! I was a very strong advocate of this program when it was first being considered many years ago. I am pleased to see that this investment has paid off in spades, not to mention the great global citizens we have produced who will be out representing Palo Alto to the broader community in such a positive way.


3 people like this
Posted by Bruce
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 13, 2015 at 1:01 am

Many elite Chinese people live in Palo Alto Mandarin should be the language more.

Chinese people 1 in 6 people in the world. 1 in 2 in Palo Alto. English and Mandarin must be teached in schools.


94 people like this
Posted by @Bruce
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 13, 2015 at 3:54 pm

Unless you have renounced China and become a citizen, you have no right whatsoever to decide what our schools or our state or our industries or our country should do.

The population of Palo Alto is not 50% Chinese nationals, nor even 50% Asian. The two high schools have a 40% Asian population--still a minority.

Many Chinese immigrant children do not want to speak English in the classroom, some absolutely refuse to do so, according to reports from fellow students. Perhaps they would benefit from more English immersion.


3 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 13, 2015 at 7:22 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Bruce

You are assuming that Bruce (he or she) is Chinese. This is not verifiable.


57 people like this
Posted by @ Bruce
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 16, 2015 at 8:07 am

Considering the amount of protest against this MI program, and the way it is being offered to only a handful of students, it should be revealed WHO is really behind this program--I.e., just who is pressuring for it.

[Portion removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 16, 2015 at 11:03 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


18 people like this
Posted by John94306
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 19, 2015 at 10:29 am

John94306 is a registered user.

If you're against the MI program, then to be consistent, you need to be against ALL choice programs in PAUSD.
You would need to argue that Spanish Immersion, Ohlone, and Hoover should all be shut down/converted and everyone should just go to their own neighborhood school. But we don't hear anyone saying that.

[Portion removed.]


21 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 21, 2015 at 1:07 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@John94306

You raise an interesting point. During the 2007-08, a passionate line of argument against starting the Mandarin Immersion program at Ohlone was that all choice programs (Ohlone, Hoover, and SI) should be eliminated in order to reduce traffic and strengthen neighborhoods. We're not hearing those voices on this thread. Is that because more Palo Altans accept the practice of having program choices available at the elementary school level?






30 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 21, 2015 at 1:29 pm

>You would need to argue that Spanish Immersion, Ohlone, and Hoover should all be shut down/converted and everyone should just go to their own neighborhood school. But we don't hear anyone saying that.

We should shut down all the boutique school models...too much is being asked of our public schools. And our public schools should serve the kids in the neighborhood. However, we should allow educational vouchers, so that parents can send their own kids to whatever private or school they want, including language immersion, cooperative learning, basics, etc.

If my kids were still young, I would just have them walk down the street to their neighborhood school. Matter of fact, that is what I did (Escondido). In retrospect, I think it was wrong for Escondido to be dumped on by SI. If I had vouchers available to me, I could have made a choice....

Let the open market of choices flourish.


35 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 21, 2015 at 4:17 pm

@Bruce wrote:

"If Chinese are majority"

Which they are not in California...

"then the language should reflect this."

English is the common language in the United States. Why should the taxpayers fund immersion schools when foreign language courses are available in high school and college?

"When Chinese majority in Palo ALto the language will follow."

Why Mandarin? A lot of Chinese families speak Cantonese. Why not have Cantonese immersion instead?

"Chinese are the most dominant group by virtue of our numbers."

Soon to be surpassed by Indians, in whose country Hindi and English are the official languages. Given that, wouldn't it make more sense to have Hindi or English immersion programs instead? Or perhaps a Spanish immersion program, given that Spanish was the common language in California before English.


7 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 21, 2015 at 5:53 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


32 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 21, 2015 at 6:37 pm

[Portion removed.]

A number of Chinese that I know were sent to Cantonese or Mandarin classes after school. These extra-curricular private classes were paid for by their parents, who made attendance mandatory. From what I can see, the immersion schools are an attempt to effectively shift the tuition costs to the taxpayers.


3 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 21, 2015 at 9:50 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Kazu,

[Portion removed.]

"Why should the taxpayers fund immersion schools when foreign language courses are available in high school and college?"

A dual immersion program, in this case Mandarin/English, is structured so that when students leave fifth grade they should be functionally bilingual. High school and college foreign language classes are a different matter. The focus there is on learning the language, in an elementary dual immersion program the focus is on using both languages to access the curriculum. This gives a pathway for non-Chinese children to acquire Mandarin skills that would not otherwise be open to them.

Why Mandarin? Why not some other language, like Hindi, or Spanish? Fair enough question, and I think the answer is that the Palo Alto foreign language market is characterized by high demand for Spanish (for which we have the long-successful Spanish Immersion program at Escondido) and Mandarin (MI at Ohlone), not so high for Hindi or any other language.

Do you recall when Russian was a hot choice for foreign language offerings in high school and then Japanese? You could make strong cases for these languages and many others to be paired with English in dual immersion programs provided you had the required native speakers of the other language. It's a matter or demand and resources. Palo Alto has both for Spanish and Mandarin. Perhaps another language will be put forward. If so, I suggest it would have difficulty getting instituted as a third Dual Immersion program or bumping Spanish or Mandarin aside and taking its place. Not impossible or unreasonable, just unlikely,


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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