Chicago, Il – On Saturday, April 30th, 2016, educators from HudsonWay Immersion School presented its unique teaching methodology to teachers, administrators and policymakers at the National Chinese Language Conference. The school, located in Summit, NJ and New York City, teaches academic content to children in preschool through fifth grade in Mandarin or Spanish.
Master Teacher Plutus Yang, Director Elizabeth Willaum, and teacher Rita Wu were selected to present the key features of its immersion model. Ms. Yang described the school’s emphasis on project-based learning, in which the foreign language is taught by applying it to practical problem-solving and academic learning. The educators explained how they have found that Mandarin immersion, when combined with this project-based instruction, has the power to deepen students’ collaborative content explorations, expand and enhance their thinking skills, and ensure their cognitive development and flexibility.
Participants learned how to effectively teach English-dominant students subject matter through interdisciplinary, project-based learning units, using the target language, Mandarin, as the vehicle of instruction in an immersion setting.
“There are a lot of reasons why immersion education pairs so well with project-based learning,” Ms. Yang said. “The most important reason is that it creates opportunities for students to communicate with each other, which is a fundamental component of a true immersion environment.”
The presenters walked participants through a four-week unit that includes Mandarin language arts, social studies, cultural competencies, science, math, and art. Through video excerpts of live classroom activities and photos of student projects, participants got to see firsthand how students at HudsonWay learn in Mandarin, in an immersion setting infused with cultural awareness.