Do Immersion Differently

Speaking the language is only part of the benefit of attending a trilingual Christian school.

A few weeks ago, we walked into our Wednesday night church dinner and a sweet little girl ran up to my fourth-grade daughter, Greta. Speaking quickly in Spanish, I heard the little girl cheerfully greet her and then ask if they could go play together. My daughter, without missing a beat, turned and continued the conversation in Spanish. Greta later told me that this child had recently come to the US with her family as refugees and had been attending many of our church events.

Another week, two seventh-grade boys sat in the conference room with someone from a local church. The church employee had contacted me hoping to find some help with translation for a video interview they wanted to share with their congregation. These boys, in the middle of a unit on immigration, were able to use their Spanish–not only to serve their community as translators but also to learn firsthand about the trials that some people face in their home countries.

In her home, a fifth-grader answered a call from the Netherlands. Interestingly enough, she was able to use her Mandarin to translate a conversation between a Bissel Vacuum employee and someone in China.

Playing at the beach of Lake Michigan during the summer, another few siblings in Mandarin immersion found themselves drawn to familiar sounds they hadn’t heard much since school ended in early June. A large group of Mandarin speakers was also enjoying the beach, and the ZCS children were able to connect and enjoy playing with their new friends.

A simple search online will show you countless colorful graphs illustrating the prevalence of languages spoken around the world. Mandarin Chinese tops out the charts, followed by Spanish and English. As I walk the hallways of ZCS, I’m amazed at how students and teachers are speaking the three most commonly spoken languages in the world. It is inspiring every time someone shares how our students are using their language abilities in the community.

Speaking the language is only part of the benefit of attending a trilingual Christian school. Interacting with teachers from different backgrounds, our students’ worldviews are expanding, and they are learning to appreciate and engage across cultures. Whether or not our students actively use their language abilities, they benefit from the presence of other languages and cultures in our school.

We are always looking for ways our students can use Spanish or Mandarin in the local community. Please contact me if you have connections with businesses, organizations, or individuals who engage in either language and might want to connect with a class or small group of students.

灿燃 – Brilla Intensamente – Burn Bright,

Jodi Pierce
Immersion Director

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