Meet the Wyoming, Austrlian children fluent in Chinese

Chinese immersion programs are popping up all over the United States, and are now making an appearance in Australia where the government has set a goal of having 40 percent of its high school students studying a foreign language, reports the BBC.

The article quotes a world languages expert who estimates there are fewer than 10 elementary immersion programs in Australia, despite evidence that the model is the best way to reach the country’s educational goals.

“The former Labor government proposed that every Australian high school child should be given the opportunity to learn an Asian language by 2025,” says the BBC. “The current government says 40% of high school children should be learning a foreign language in 10 years’ time. The figure is currently only around 12% in the final year of high school.”

That’s because the dropout rate at high school for Chinese is around 95 percent, the BBC says, noting immersion graduates enter high school better prepared and engaged – more willing to stick it out.

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In other news (with a nod to Utah’s immersion program):

“A Chinese dual-language immersion program in Casper is the first of its kind in Wyoming, but the movement is gaining traction in other areas of the state,” reports the Casper Star-Tribune.

Parents and teachers in Gillette, Cody, Evanston, Sheridan and Cheyenne are exploring adopting programs, the newspaper says:

“Brandee Mau, foreign language curriculum facilitator for Campbell County School District 1 and a German teacher at Campbell County High School in Gillette, said her school district will send a team of school officials and community members to observe the dual-language immersion programs in Utah in the coming months….. Research from immersion programs in Utah, where some 20,000 students statewide participate in dual language learning, suggests that most students who learn in a second language do at least as well — if not better — on standardized tests than students who are not in a dual language program, said Casper-based language consultant Ann Tollefson.”

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