So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

Options growing for bilingual education for the preschool set

Dual Language API - 1

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Transitional kindergarten dual language student Jesus Lopez goes through a keycard exercise with his classmates on Wednesday, March 20 at Foster Elementary School. Half of the school is in a dual language program, and the other half of the students are taught in English only.

Bilingual learning continues its upward trend in Southern California. Two of the latest offerings: a drop off program at the Zimmer and a new preschool in Pasadena. 

Called “Jugando Grande” (Playing Big), the museum invites 3 year-olds to participate in a five-week program that it said “combines best practices in Early Childhood and Arts Education with the Zimmer mission to help young people develop their capacity for creating positive change.”

It comes at a time when dual language immersion education is gaining in popularity across Southern California.

Experts say a dual language education helps children develop the focus and mental flexibility of young minds. Immersing preschool- and elementary school-aged children in learning in a second language can improve their performance in both languages, according to researchers. (Check out KPCC’s extensive series on bilingual learning from earlier this year.)

While there are many local bilingual elementary schools, finding a language immersion experience for preschoolers has been slim pickings.

That's why a group of Pasadena parents took matters into their own hands, organizing and lobbying for a Pre-K at Field Elementary school that would teach activities in Mandarin for 100 percent of the day.

The principal and district administrator said they supported the idea of a Mandarin dual immersion program and would launch one - if the parents could recruit enough families to fill a class. The school currently offers a Mandarin dual-language program at the elementary level. 

Through word of mouth and repeated call-outs on a parent list-serve, fifteen families signed up, enough to get the class started in August.

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