Arts + Culture

Kindergarten Lessons All Taught In Chinese

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In many ways, a kindergarten class at Benjamin Mays Magnet Elementary in St. Paul is like any other; they sing songs, learn numbers, and tell stories. The big difference is that the students are learning everything in Mandarin Chinese.

“It’s very, very hard for them, but they’re doing very, very well,” said teacher Hong Juan Zhou.

WCCO-TV spent a morning in class during the first week of school. Some students seemed to be catching on quickly, while others looked frustrated and worn out. They sat at their desks with their head between their hands, or lying on the desk, in what appeared to be an intense and challenging school day.

Benjamin Mays’ new program is one of 63 immersion programs in Minnesota.

In the last 10 years, the number of language immersion programs has close to doubled in the U.S, from 524 to 924.

Dr. Tara Fortune is with the Center for Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA), and works with immersion programs across the country.