Language immersion: making the case for all-day kindergarten

Chiming in on national press coverage of Utah’s Mandarin immersion program, this Provo Herald guest editorial raises an interesting question.

Citing from an article in Time Magazine, Duane Jeffrey, emeritus professor of biology at Brigham Young University, points to research findings “frightening to an old codger” like him:  “The sensitivity for learning languages peaks at about 9 months of life.”

If this is true, why don’t all of Utah’s immersion programs start in kindergarten – or preschool, for that matter?

The answer, I’m sure, is multifaceted but has something to do with the fact that Utah doesn’t fund universal, all-day kindergarten. Could immersion programs be the thing that convinces lawmakers to rethink that policy? I wonder.

2 thoughts on “Language immersion: making the case for all-day kindergarten

  1. Hiedi

    Language immersion kindergarten (and preschool) would be great but, I don’t think that means children that age will benefit from being in school all day. Half-day is still plenty for a child that age. Why not make kindergarten immersion, then make the first grade through sixth grade classes full immersion for the full day? Children will still learn English (we live in an English speaking community, they can’t get away from it), and will gain more language proficiency in the second language. A half-day of instruction, which is currently the only option, isn’t nearly enough to become fluent.

  2. Mama Ford

    Great topic, parents. You might know that in Davis District, they do a 3/4 day kindergarten for Chinese Immersion classes. This gives 1/2 day in Chinese (which is essential) and 1/4 a day in English.

    The extra costs this brings is covered by the use of guest teachers from China. I’m sure our school would hire locally, if they could, but it isn’t possible to get enough qualified, Chinese speaking teachers.

    The Chinese government pays a portion of their salary, and districts don’t have to provide them with health insurance or retirement. We found out that guest teachers cost just under 50% of what a local teacher costs. If a beginning teacher earns $30k, and benefits add another $22,000, you can see that there is some funding available. This info might help you convince your district to do what ours does.

    Immersion Parents in Davis


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