Friday, March 09, 2007

Chinese Language Immersion

It's all my friend Mary's fault.

Like her, when I first heard about the new Mandarin Chinese immersion school in our district I didn't give it much thought. Why would Hope go to any other school besides the local elementary school her brother has primed for her? And by "primed" I mean has already visited the principal's office. Because I know my sweet princess WILL VISIT THE PRINCIPAL'S OFFICE. (Did I ever? NO! I did NOT.) (GAH.)

Then I started reading about language immersion. You'd think as a speech pathologist I might have been mildly interested, but I'm all about convenience these days and it is highly convienient to be able to walk to school or run right over there when someone forgets his library book, or something. The new school is several miles away.

As I read more and talked to more people I realized this might be a great opportunity for my little kid. A part of me (a big part) misses small-town Iowa where these choices weren't even up for consideration. There was no language immersion but you could walk almost everywhere in town when you were in grade school. But the bigger part of me is realizing that it is an opportunity that is too good to pass up.

Wouldn't you appreciate being fluent in Mandarin Chinese? I know I would. I loved high school Latin and the toga party that went with it. (Who didn't?) But later I struggled through French in college. The first semester was fine. It certainly didn't hurt that our instructor was a 6'5' dreamboat fresh out of the Peace Corp in Cameroon. And he sang to us every day. He sang the Cameroon National Anthem. Or something. It could have been Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. He was fantastic. But by the third semester my grade had sunk to a C. And the teacher was not so gorgeous. Nor male. There was little motivation. My fourth semester of French was taught by the chairman of the French Dept. Come on. That was awful. Plus, I'm pretty sure he was from France.

So my point is languages later in life kind of sucked. ASL was a little different. I feel like I would have been okay if I had had the option of ASL as my B.A. language requirement. What happened was I dropped my 4th semester of French (because I was a loser/quitter). You needed 4 semesters to claim your B.A. I was in The School of Music and, thank God, they had an option for language losers like me....(Drum roll please...........) I earned a Bachelor of Music. Abbreviate that one. I earned a B.M. in college. A B.M. Laugh amongst yourselves.

I hope for a less embarrassing undergraduate degree for Hope.


  1. You know, if Hope does learn a language that you are unfamiliar with, she will be able to get away with a lot more mischief . . .

    I've thought about this only because Quinn was disappointed after his 6 weeks of after-school Spanish, that he was still unable to say mean things to me that I would not understand.

  2. I'm only sending PJ because I want to learn swear words in cool would that sound???

  3. jean's daughter zoe goes there, and is loving it. you should talk to her about it at choir.