Beginning with 90% Immersion creates a Linguistic Environment - Moves to 50%
Miller Zhuang, board member, has learned 7 languages: Mandarin, English, Spanish, Cantonese, Hakka, Shen Dao, and Sichuan. He contributes his mastery of languages to being immersed in the linguistic environment. At 22, he tested in the top 5% of China and was one of the first students allowed to study overseas after the Cultural Revolution. Although he studied the English language in China, he found he had to re-learn it when he was in the linguistic environment of Canada. Chinese begin studying English in Kindergarten all the way into university, but they speak it consciously thinking since they only do language study, not unconsciously like a native.
We are doing more than teaching Mandarin; we are helping students become fluent, native speakers (no accent). We support 90% Mandarin in TK, K, and 1st grades then increase English 10% each grade. Irvine International Academy focuses on pathology and creating a linguistic environment, so a student unconsciously speaks the language. Miller mentioned that in NYC, children attend Saturday schools where they are in a 100% language environment. They grow up without knowing they were learning a language, but a linguistic skill! English normally will be the environment outside of school.
Mandarin is unrelated, written or tonally, from English. Mandarin is a 5,000-year-old Pictionary language, whereas English and Spanish have their roots in Latin, the Romance languages, and phonic spelling. Chinese registers on a different side of the brain (artistic). Americans’ experience of learning Spanish doesn’t relate. The US State Department says it takes 3 times as long to learn Mandarin for their employees.
Here is our timetable of percentages for Mandarin/English:
90:10 TK, Kindergarten, and First grade
80:20 Second grade
70:30 Third grade
60:40 Fourth grade
50:50 Fifth grade then,
30:70 for Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth
Curriculum (partial list)
Better Chinese (Chinese)
Singapore Mathematics (Chinese)
Step Up to Writing (English)
Saxon Phonics and Spelling (English)
iChineseReader 3.0 (2,000 e-books)
Michael Scott, PhD