A Chinese Immersion School May Become a First in Boston

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Language immersion programs have become increasingly popular in cities and towns across the country. If approved by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the Boston Chinese Immersion Charter School (BCICS) will launch next fall and become Boston’s first Chinese immersion school program.

Language immersion programs are not a new concept; they were first introduced in 1965 in Montreal, Canada to provide English-speaking students living in a predominantly francophone province of Quebec with the opportunity to learn French. According to the Center for Applied Linguistics, “children who learn a second language are more creative and better at solving complex problems than those who do not…Knowing a second language also gives people a competitive advantage in the workforce. These are some of the compelling reasons for parents to encourage the development of a second (or third) language with their children.” Chinese immersion schools have been well established in New York and on the West Coast, in San Francisco and Portland, Oregon.

Modeled after the successful French immersion programs, foreign language immersion programs in the U.S. are designed to enrich students’ academic experiences by teaching them subjects in a second language. Studies have shown that children below the age of 11 have a stronger ability to learn and speak a second language without an accent. Rather than studying the second language, students learn the language by hearing and using it in all of their subjects. This concept is reflected in the vision of BCICS: through an academically rigorous curriculum using Mandarin Chinese as the medium of instruction, Boston Chinese Immersion Charter School (BCICS) will prepare students in a Kindergarten through 8th grade setting to graduate poised for academic success in high school and beyond.