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Speaker Notes: Prof. L. Ling-chi Wang, University of California, Berkeley

School Board Meeting, October 28, 2015

My name is L. Ling-chi Wang.  I am a semi-retired professor from the University of California, Berkeley. I am here to support the proposal to extend the Mandarin and Spanish immersion programs into junior high level in Fremont.

More than five years ago, I stood here in support of starting a program that will prepare students to be bilingual in the two most widely-spoken and important languages in the world, English and Chinese, and to eventually grow up to become active and productive citizens of the U.S. and the world.  

That program is built on sound scientific and educational principles that children educated in bilingual immersion programs not only acquire a second language proficiency with ease but also develop cognitive skills in other academic subjects.  As one who helped launch the first Chinese immersion program nearly forty years ago for my own child, I have witnessed the phenomenal success and proliferation of such programs in Chinese and other languages in San Francisco and elsewhere.  Parents of all races camp out each year to enroll their children in such programs because the S.F. school district could not expand its capacity fast enough to meet the enrollment demands.  If we look across the country, such immersion programs in different languages are now popping up in large and tiny school districts from N.Y. City to Vancouver, Washington.  The performance data from Azevada confirms findings from Chinese immersion programs in San Francisco, French immersion programs in Montreal and Spanish immersion programs in Austin, Texas.

Let me end this presentation with two important points.  First, based on my own experience in the curricular planning process in San Francisco, it is extremely important for Hopkins to have two up-front Chinese core classes so that your students can continue to upgrade and deepen their language proficiency and appreciation.  We expect all our students to possess not just basic English-language proficiency but also appreciation of the beauty and insights of classics like  the works of Shakespeare and Dickens.  We should expect no less for our immersion children so that they too begin to appreciate the great Tang poetry and modern classics like the works of Lu Xun and Mo Yan.  

Finally, I cannot overstate the importance of active parental participation in all school programs. Studies after studies have repeatedly confirm the importance of parental participation in student achievements.  I urge you to institutionalize their involvement in order to guarantee their success in the junior high level.

I commend the Superintendent and parents in Fremont for commencing the planning process for Chinese and Spanish immersion programs in Hopkins Junior High.  

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