Thursday, January 21, 2010

Learning Something New

I used to blog for my old company, but they took the blog down. I am
not actually allowed to own the writings I put up on that blog, but as
I reference them on occasion in my writing I am putting those articles
up in my archives here for reference sake. I'll put the tag GS on those
articles noting that they were originally published on the

Learning Something New

July 3, 2008 – 4:58 am by Brendan

A KinderCare Learning Center in Schaumburg, (there are 1, 2, 3, 4), and a Knowledge Beginnings school, both part of Knowledge Learning Corp company which is the same parent company of GlobalScholar, offers an immersion program for 3 to 5 year old children who wish to learn Mandarin Chinese. They are two of only five locations in the country that have been chosen to host this program. I’m not sure where the others are, but perhaps someone reading this blog might attach a comment.

I think this is a great idea. If Schaumburg were any closer I would send my boys there in a heartbeat even though my wife gave up an executive level position so she could stay home with the boys. It isn’t so much that Chinese is, and will continue to be, an important language in business. It’s for three reasons: first because Chinese is so very much different than most other languages, because the opportunity to learn a foreign language young is so very important, and because it is an immersion program.

According to the article Chinese may be “easier than English because it’s more visual and plagued by fewer exceptions to the rules.” Not that I really care about it being easy, I do however care that the language uses characters. This is so different from the building a word like we do in English. Also I think learning to write in Chinese can do nothing but improve penmanship. (You really don’t want to try to decipher my handwriting.)

I have also heard research that says at younger ages our brains are still more flexible and we learn languages easier. I am considered an intelligent person, but I seem to have a lot of difficulty learning new languages. I can memorize a lot of nouns easily, but I have a lot of difficulty understanding the words when they are spoken or using foreign grammar. I think this may be in part because my brain is so very hardwired to think and speak in English.

I do however believe that immersion programs, at least for learners like me, are the way to go. Judging by the amazing amount of the Czeck language I picked up in just two weeks when only one person around me knew how to speak any English. I think two years of immersion in Chinese four or five days a week would really expand the knowledge base for my children.

The children who take Chinese may forget and they may never use Chinese again, but at least they would have been immersed in a foreign language at that important age before they are hardwired into just one way of thinking.

Students who learn Chinese in preschool can continue practicing at some area elementary and high schools. Specifically, Ranch View Elementary School, Conant High School, Naperville North High School, Naperville Central High School, and Indian Prairie High School.


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