While the majority of the children are still concentrating on French immersion, children who are fluent in both the French and English languages are being introduced to Mandarin, a language spoken by one in every six people in the world.
The purpose, Jarlov said, is to introduce the children to yet another language and one that is quite different from the three Western languages — French, English and Spanish — that are already a part of the curriculum.
“Our students at the French-American school are already benefiting from a bilingual education that will enable them to read and write in both French and English by the end of first grade,” Jarlov said. “The introduction of Mandarin will enable our students to benefit from the exposure to sounds that are very different from Western languages, and it will open their ear to different tones, and help develop their memory through the study of Chinese characters.”
Many studies have proven that children are capable of learning languages very easily at an early age and that the learning process makes them not only excellent communicators in their own language, Jarlov said, but also better problem solvers in math and science.
The new program includes two periods of 30 minutes per week. For those not participating in the Mandarin section, another option proposes the reinforcement of French through math, science or music, offering additional support to those who are new to the French language.
Students in first grade and up at SDFAS have the option of studying Mandarin as an after-school activity. The SDFAS Saturday Language School also offers several language options for students who are not currently enrolled at SDFAS, including Italian.
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