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How is my baby going to react in an immersion environment?

Time: 2014-08-29

In the early years, immersion teachers realize that their students will not understand everything they say. They use body language, visuals, manipulatives, exaggerated facial expressions, and expressive intonation to communicate their meaning. As the years progress, students naturally use more of the immersion language. From the standpoint of academic achievement, over three decades of studies consistently show that immersion students achieve as well as or better than non-immersion children on standardized measures of verbal and mathematics skills administered in their native language. (Chinese) (Cloud, Genesee, & Hamayan, 2000; Genesee, 1987). Many parents are initially fearful that immersion may have a negative impact on their child's Chinese transition to a Chinese elementary school. But research consistently finds that the immersion experience actually enhances native (Chinese) language development (Cloud, Genesee, & Hamayan, 2000).  

First month: Everything is new, and the child will resist the change vehemently. Typically (and with some possible crying bouts), he or she may be quieter and more reserved at school and may resist playing with the other kids. Remember, this is normal behavior for any child attending a new school, even if there isn’t a new language involved. It’s a typical human reaction to change.

Second month: Your child hopefully begins to adjust to the new situation. He or she opens up and plays more with the other kids and begins to learn the basic words (“Yes,” “No,” “Maybe”). They begin to like and to gain trust in the teachers.

Third month and beyond: Your child should now be comfortable with the situation and starting to enjoy school, which really accelerates the language learning process. Remember, happy kids learn the quickest. . After about one semester, he or she will be comfortable using the second language and will be quickly catching up to the peers — well on the way to speaking a foreign language, just by playing and having fun.  (www.publicschoolsreview.com/article25)


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