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Language Immersion For Elementary Kids

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By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - French, German, Spanish, Latin, Arabic and Mandarin are high school language options at Caesar Rodney High School in northeastern Delaware. But this year a Chinese-immersion program for 101 kindergarteners started.

The federally funded program provides instruction in math, science and literacy for half the day in Chinese and the other half in English. In Utah, immersion in Chinese, French, Spanish and Portuguese begins in 1st grade.

These initiatives are unique in that researchers claim that they begin when children are most receptive to picking up a language and speaking it fluently with little or no hint of a foreign accent. Studies have shown that those who have grown up bilingual have better memories and stronger protections against cognitive declines later in life.

Even so, foreign language in elementary schools has decreased from 31% in 1997 to 25% and we have fallen behind other countries.

Read more about it in Education Week.

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