Ging Ging Liu Fernandez and her husband jumped at the opportunity to apply to the Chinese Immersion Program.
“We felt that learning in both Mandarin and English would give Hoku a head start on a global future and also connect him with his Chinese heritage,” says Ging Ging. “He loves Mandarin and speaks it with me at home! His brothers also speak more Mandarin than they used to, and it’s become the ‘cool’ thing at our house.”
Hoku entered Maryknoll’s Chinese Immersion Program as part of the inaugural kindergarten class. In the Chinese Immersion Program, 50% of the school day is taught in Mandarin and the other 50% is taught in English, creating a dual-language environment. Students learn core academic subjects in both languages, which helps them to build proficiency more quickly as they use the languages for classroom activities and assignments.
“The Maryknoll community has been very welcoming and supportive, and they help us parents to be involved in our child’s education,” says Ging Ging. “We’ve had guest speakers who are immersion experts, and Hoku loves school activities like making holiday treats with his ‘Big Brother’ who is in Middle School.”
Now in first grade after one year of immersion, Hoku is gaining bilingual fluency in leaps and bounds. His Mandarin teachers make learning fun with flash cards, games and songs. His English teachers do the same in their classroom and make sure students understand concepts in both languages. New this year is the Mandarin Matrix app, which contains stories and writing exercises that Hoku can do in class or at home.
As Hoku continues to move up in grade level, Maryknoll’s Chinese Immersion Program will continue to grow with him, providing him with the foundation to excel wherever his college and career aspirations take him.