Batesville Community School Corporation began Indiana’s first Chinese Dual Language Immersion (DLI) Program during the 2016-17 school year. The DLI program began with kindergarten students in 2016 and expands to the succeeding grade level each year.
What is a Dual Language Immersion program?
In a Dual Language Immersion program, students are taught Indiana standards in two languages, both their native language (English) and the target language (Chinese). Students learn the same standards-based curriculum in all content areas that non-immersion students follow in any other classroom.
Batesville Community School Corporation uses a fifty-fifty model, in which students spend half of their school day in Mandarin Chinese and the other half-day in English. Students will have two teachers, one who teaches exclusively in Mandarin Chinese for half of the day and one who instructs in English for half of the day.
Why begin a second language in kindergarten?
Kindergarten aged students are developmentally ready to learn languages. A child has twice as many synapses (connections) in the brain as an adult. Young students must use these connections or lose them. There is a window of opportunity in which a child learns languages easily. After this period, the brain becomes slowly less receptive. With the typical model of waiting until students are in middle school or high school to learn a second language, it is more difficult to acquire a foreign language. In a Dual Language Immersion program, students not only learn to speak Chinese, but they will be reading and writing in a second language.