Embedding cultural lessons in language immersion programs

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Utah is not a big destination for Chinese and Taiwanese immigrants – at least, not on the scale of coastal cities like San Francisco or New York.

Exposing our children to different cultures – one of the reasons many parents enroll their children in language immersion programs – takes a little extra effort and creativity.

Culture is embedded in our language, which is why it’s an important supplement to language education. It enriches the learning experience and gives language learners greater depth of knowledge. Someone can describe a tree to you, but until you touch one, drink in its scent or stand beneath the cool shade of its leaves, how well do you know a tree?

It is with this understanding that parents and teachers at Ridgecrest Elementary in Cottonwood Heights, UT arranged two Chinese New Year celebrations: a musical performance put on by the students and a school-wide assembly featuring a professional lion dance.

The lion dance was sponsored by the Chinese Society of Utah. Parents and teachers donated money and time to make costumes and treats. Students spent countless hours rehearsing their songs. It was a wonderful example of a community coming together to support its children and advance education.

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