In Houston, Texas this school year, students in the area can choose to go to a new magnet school. However, this new magnet school is conducted entirely in Mandarin Chinese with absolutely no Chinese translation provided for the students. This school is the first of its kind in Texas. Not that it is an immersion school, but that it is the only one that teaches Mandarin Chinese.
Students Are Only Two Months in and On their Way to Language Fluency
The new school has students from all different backgrounds, but most of them have no experience speaking Mandarin Chinese. Their teacher speaks nothing but Chinese throughout the day and the curriculum is in Chinese as well. The students are supposed to let the immersion technique guide them through the language, but they also receive reading instruction. Sara Salazar, a second grader at the new magnet school, says she understands everything her teacher says to her and she has only attended the school for two months since the school opened at the beginning of the school year. In fact, most of the class is picking up on the language fairly quickly, and some students aren’t even proficient in English yet. Some students are on their way to providing professional translation in three languages!
A few people in the community have asked why Texas is the new home to a Chinese immersion school and not a Spanish immersion school since a large portion of the community is Hispanic and Spanish speaking. Houston however, is an international city and is filled with many different languages, Mandarin Chinese included. The immersion school, among other things, can help students gain employment later in life in the translation business by becoming a legal translator or a professional translator for businesses.