Although some students in dual language immersion programs may initially be marginally behind level in reading and writing in English, studies over time have shown that immersion students close that gap around third/fourth grade, and they ultimately do as well as and often better on standardized tests than students in English only programs. Switching languages fluently conditions the brain to be able to problem solve more quickly and more creatively. This is particularly true with Mandarin, since it is a tonal language that requires the use of both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Research also confirms that the earlier a child learns a second language, the easier the language is to learn. VIDEOS OF INTEREST: 1) TED-Ed Lesson (2015, June 23). Mia Nacamulli: The benefits of a bilingual brain https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMmOLN5zBLY&app=desktop 2) LinguaHealth (2012, Feb. 9). Brenda K. Gorman, Ph.D.: Myths About Bilingual Children https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVYhpCprtzQ
Homework complements lessons done in class, so students generally already know how to do the homework. Also, homework instructions are, in most cases, provided in English and Mandarin. Additionally, students in the after-school program are allotted time to do homework, and the after-school staff provide homework assistance. Many parents, with children in Mandarin immersion programs, do not know Mandarin, and parents often learn some Mandarin words and characters while helping their child with homework. Most importantly, the best way parents can help is to show enthusiasm and interest in their child learning Mandarin. Experts recommend parents continue to speak to their children in their native language at home, so young children can continue to develop fluency in their first language. If parents want to help their child with speaking Mandarin, try scheduling a play date or Skype/FaceTime session for kids to practice Mandarin together or the next time a babysitter is needed, hire a Mandarin speaking sitter.