Why Learn Chinese?

A U.S. Census report based on the American Community Survey of 2011 indicates that “after English and Spanish, Chinese was the most widely spoken language in the United States.” Nearly 3 million U.S. residents speak the language at home.

Around the world, about 874 million people speak Mandarin Chinese at home; over 1 billion people speak the language. Most of them live in Mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries. The U.S. Government has designated it a “critical language” for its long-term strategic importance to U.S.-China cooperation for business and government.

Specifically, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) has identified a need for schools to produce competent foreign-language speakers for domestic reasons, such as emergency response, health care services, educational settings, etc., and also for reasons related to heightened national security and international diplomacy.

The Forest Lake community expressed interest in Chinese instruction at LILA and an after-school for-fee Chinese program proved to be highly successful, even generating a waiting list. The school began its expansion into Mandarin Chinese as a third language (L3) in 2007, after winning one of the largest Foreign Language Assistance Program grants ever awarded by the USDE for our pilot Chinese language immersion program—more than $800,000 dispersed over three years. We’ve implemented much of our Chinese curriculum based on that project.

Chinese is not too difficult to learn! Elementary-age students especially absorb its unique linguistic sounds and symbols. We invite parents and their children to tour the school to see how immersion education at LILA helps students become proficient speakers. Contact us today to reserve a tour.

About Immersion Education

Foreign language immersion education is a method of teaching a second language (also called L2 or the target language). Unlike a standard language course, where the target language is simply the subject material, language immersion uses the target language as a teaching tool, surrounding or immersing students in the second language. In-class activities, such as science, math, social studies, technology, and history, are conducted in the target language.

Today's immersion programs are based on those founded in the 1960s in Canada when middle-income English-speaking parents convinced educators to establish an experimental French immersion program enabling their children to appreciate the traditions and culture of French-speaking Canadians as well as English-speaking Canadians.

Immersion programs are the fastest growing and most effective type of foreign language program currently available in U.S. schools. Immersion students can be expected to reach higher levels of second language proficiency than students in other school-based language programs. Becoming bilingual opens the door to communication with more people in more places, and many parents want to provide their children with skills to interact competently in an increasingly interdependent world community.

One of the key principles of immersion education is that linguistic and cultural knowledge is a resource—the more you know, the better off you are.

Learn More About Immersion

Visit our Research & Resources page for links to additional information about immersion instruction, including this video from the Center for Advanced Resarch on Language Acquisition (CARLA) at the University of Minnesota.