Teachers see success in Blue Valley's Chinese language program - KCTV5 News

Teachers see success in Blue Valley's Chinese language program

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A classroom in the new Wolf Springs Elementary School stands out from the rest, everything in this class is in Chinese. (KCTV5) A classroom in the new Wolf Springs Elementary School stands out from the rest, everything in this class is in Chinese. (KCTV5)
OVERLAND PARK, KS (KCTV) -

A classroom in the new Wolf Springs Elementary School stands out from the rest, everything in this class is in Chinese.

The new Chinese immersion program is now halfway through the school year.

The program is like a lottery system, every parent in the Blue Valley School District could put their child’s name in, then just around 40 kids were selected.

The Farrell family put their son Harrison in but never expected to be picked. Now, four months later, they say they couldn’t be happier.

“I really like it and it’s kind of the place for me,” Harrison told us while he was sitting on the couch, showing us Chinese counting games on his iPad.

He is learning in two different languages; half of his day is in English, the rest in Chinese.

It’s at this early age, that experts say is the best time to learn a new language. Children catch on faster and retain it longer.

“We know how to say hello [in Chinese], Ni Hao,” said Harrison’s mother Jennifer Farrell.

The language is rubbing off at home.

Harrison has taught his family how to do simple games like rock, paper, scissors in Chinese.

Both mom and dad, or Jennifer and Kyle Farrell have learned a little, but they have noticed their youngest son Nolan, is picking it up even faster.

Which was apparent, as the two sat side by side on the couch, playing games in Chinese on the iPad.

“The ah-ha moment for me was watching our youngest count to ten in Chinese,” said Kyle Farrell. “It was just remarkable to me that our 6-year-old had come home and he had done it enough times that our 4-year-old picked up on it and they were counting together.”

For the Farrells, this works. Harrison’s cousin goes to a private school in New York City, and his parents pay $25,000 a year to get this opportunity. Here at Wolf Springs Elementary, it’s free.

Harrison is four months into the program, and already knows how to count to 100, colors and how to say please and thank you. Next, on the agenda, they will be learning animals and plants.

“They can even use the language to have conversation with me,” said Claire Pan who teaches the program.

She incorporates a lot of songs and games into the classroom, making learning fun.

“They have, they think differently, think globally, because they have learned a language as well as the culture,” she said. "They will be very open-minded.”

“I think it’s just invaluable,” Jennifer Farrell said.

And Harrison agrees.

“My mom and dad really made a good choice for me," he said.

The Blue Valley School District is already looking ahead to the next class.

They expect it to be extremely popular once again. The first informational meeting will be Feb. 5 with enrollment beginning the next day.

Here’s a link to the program.

The Blue Valley Board of Education will hear a proposal at Monday night’s meeting that would continue the district’s commitment to cultivating global learners by expanding the Chinese immersion program to a second site and add Chinese course offerings to another middle school and high school.

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