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Making Bilingual, Trilingual Students in WCSD

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The students at Mount Rose Elementary School have lessons in reading, math, and science. They also take classes in Mandarin Chinese.

It is called the Mount Rose K-8 Exemplary School of Languages, and its goal is to create bilingual and even trilingual students by the time they get to seventh grade.

"Ni men hao," a group of first graders echo their teacher, in a traditional Mandarin greeting. "'Ni men' means 'many people,'" the instructor explained, in a Friday afternoon class.

The first graders in this class are among the first to specialize in Mandarin, one of three options through the new language program. The students start in Kindergarten with exposure to Spanish, French, and Chinese, and in first grade they choose one to continue for the rest of their time at the school.

Educators say if you start them young enough, kids can learn anything. "Their brains are like little sponges when they're five, and they are picking it up so quickly," Mount Rose Principal Krissy Brown said. "They already know more now in Kindergarten and first grade than I know as an adult about a specific language."

Brown started the language academy in the fall of this school year, and now all of the students at Mount Rose participate.

It has been such a hit that they are expanding the school, adding seventh grade this fall and eighth grade in 2014.

"The parents are very happy with it, and they're surprised too, which is neat to see," Brown said. "They are surprised at how much they are learning in such a short amount of time."

Educators with the program said learning a foreign language teaches kids about other cultures, and opens doors for traveling, job opportunities and college. Possibly most importantly, it gives them an understanding of an increasingly global society.

"The world is becoming smaller and smaller, like a village, you know," volunteer Mandarin instructor Zhiran Liu said. "People just go here and there, and search on the internet, this country, that country."

"We also have seen how much language has become an important part of society, and just getting jobs and college," Brown said. "The more languages you have, the better the opportunity."

Mount Rose is currently taking applications for its first seventh grade class, which starts in the fall. They are also accepting variance students for Kindergarten through sixth grade.

For more information, click here.

Written by Arianna Bennett
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