LANGUAGE & CULTURAL IMMERSION
"Learn a new language and get a new soul." - Czech Proverb
If you speak either Japanese or Mandarin at home, you may be exploring AIM as a way to enable your child to gain full bilingualism in the language. A large group of AIM parents, however, have made a conscious decision to equip their children with a language not spoken in their homes. AIM is uniquely qualified to help you achieve this goal, as our immersion program continues beyond preschool all the way up to 6th grade. We are the only Montessori Chinese/Japanese immersion program in the East Bay that continues through 6th grade! Becoming bilingual, especially from an early age and at higher levels of proficiency, offers a wide range of benefits to children.
Learning another language, such as Mandarin or Japanese, allows your child to more easily and joyously travel the world and interact with other native speakers in our communities and families. Long-term, knowing a second language can free up a student’s time to pursue other activities in their later schooling. High school language requirements will be met with ease and college admissions look favorably on students who can speak more than one language. As an adult, knowing a second language can also open up additional job opportunities.
Recent research indicates that being bilingual may actually make people more creative and better at solving complex problems. Bilingual children may also have an edge in executive function, or the ability to consciously direct their activities, which is highly correlated to school and life success! Recent studies have even shown that full bilingualism may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms!
While some educators and parents may be concerned that speaking and learning in more than one language may negatively impact academic achievement, many studies actually point to the opposite results. Knowing another language well actually imparts a stronger ability in meta-language skills, such as understanding grammar rules. Compared to mono-lingual children, bilingual children also appear to have an edge in achieving high scores in standardized tests, such as the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).
LEARNING LANGUAGES AT AIM
At AIM, we offer a truly multi-lingual environment. We aim to not just expose children to another language, compared to other schools. Our mission is to equip children to become truly bilingual and literate in English and the second language, whether it be Japanese or Mandarin. In contrast to many other language programs, which have one teacher speak the target language, our AIM program is a full language immersion program.
TODDLERS LEARNING CHINESE AND JAPANESE
Our toddler program is a dual-immersion Chinese/Japanese environment. One teacher in each class speaks exclusively Mandarin while the other teacher speaks in Japanese. Toddlers learn the basic building blocks of both these languages and have a foundation to later on delve deeper into one or both.
LANGUAGE IN THE CLASSROOM
In our preschool program, mornings are taught exclusively in Japanese or Mandarin. For example, all teachers in the Chinese class speak to the children and with each other only in Mandarin. They also teach lessons in Mandarin and students are encouraged (once they have sufficient language skills) to speak with each other. We sing Chinese songs, play Chinese games, and read books in Chinese. Children are immersed in the language and culture, which is essential in subtly encouraging them to not only understand but actually speak the second language.
LANGUAGES IN ELEMENTARY
In our elementary program, each child has both a Chinese/Japanese teacher and an English teacher. This means that most lessons are taught in both languages. In addition, children are dedicated to reading and writing in both Chinese/Japanese and English.
CULTURE & LANGUAGE THROUGH OUR TEACHERS
Teachers are native speakers and are passionate about sharing their language and culture with the children. Our Japanese teachers speak in Japanese to all children (even those in the Mandarin program.) They are willing to provide the extra support a non-Japanese speaking child may need to transition to the new environment. They are eager to challenge a native speaker to go to the next level.
READING & WRITING IN DIFFERENT LANGUAGES
We teach reading and writing in both languages. To achieve lasting bilingualism, children need to learn to read and write in a second language. Starting in preschool, our students learn to read and write in English and either Japanese or Chinese, in parallel.
Our program continues through elementary school. Studies have shown that for a second language to stay with a child, they have to achieve a certain level of fluency, both in speaking the language and in being able to write and read in it. That’s why AIM offers a program that continues with multi-lingual instruction as a core part of the day all through elementary school. AIM is the only Montessori program in the East Bay that offers either Japanese or Mandarin immersion all the way through sixth grade. This ensures that your child will become literate in Japanese/Mandarin, in addition to English, which will sustain their early language experience into adulthood.