The Benefits of a Mandarin Immersion Program

06, Dec 2022

Giving your child a Montessori education can allow your child to use play to learn academic principles and life skills in a fun, natural way. Enrolling your child in a language immersion program will do the same thing but in a second language. Mastering the Mandarin language can be extremely difficult for many adults. But introducing words and phrases in a pressure-free, familiar environment will allow your child to soak up this second language as naturally as your child learned their first language. The benefits of being in a Mandarin immersion program will continually give your child an advantage through their school days and in later life.


With an English alphabet, children learn that letters make sounds and new words can be read by saying the sound of each letter. While there are only 26 letters in the alphabet, most words can be read using the letters' sounds, except for the plethora of exceptions that we have in the English language. Mandarin is not based on phonics, but rather the memorization of symbols that hold a meaning and serve as a syllable in a word. Learning Mandarin actually takes more memorization than simply learning letters. Children who learn Mandarin as a second language are sharpening their memorization skills.


Language and reading are very much connected. A child who is learning how to read must first recognize that the symbols they are looking at in their picture books have meaning and that they are giving information to the reader. When a child understands that each letter makes a different sound, and that they can put the sounds together like building blocks, they can finally get to the information being communicated by the word or sentence. When children are introduced to the different sounds of a second language and have to associate letters with this new language, the skill of identifying letters, sounds, and words is strengthened in both their first and second languages. 


When speaking Mandarin, pitch matters and can even change the meaning of the word. A child focused on the rising and falling of words can strengthen their listening skills and as they pay attention to detail. As they listen to music, children may also pay more attention to the rise and fall of the notes, giving them new meaning and possibly a new interpretation of the musical piece.  


Mandarin may seem intimidating to learn, but being surrounded by their familiar classroom and stations allows a child to understand what is going on and expected from them. Now the student can just listen to the words being communicated to them and associate these words with what they know in their first language. The familiarity of the environment is a huge advantage in an immersion program for the child. They do not have to learn a new classroom, new method of learning, or how to behave. They can just focus on the words.

If you are interested in a Mandarin language immersion program for your child and you are in the Bay Area, Fountainhead Montessori School campuses located in Pleasant Hill and Danville both offer Mandarin immersion programs. Give Fountainhead Montessori a call today.

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