While the jury may remain forever deadlocked on the debate of whether or not language immersion schools give youngsters a competitive advantage or disadvantage, one thing is certain: The Twin Cities and surrounding metros have a lot of them. 64 to be exact, and even more if you count them by number of languages offered (many locations offer two languages).
The vast majority are Spanish with 45 schools, followed with French and Mandarin/Chinese each with eight locations; Ojibwe/Dakota and Hmong with two respectively; and German and Korean each with one.
Minnesota has long been a leader in the educational field, so it should come as no surprise that it is home to the Minnesota Advocates for Immersion Network, a nonprofit organization that acts collaboratively to support, enhance and educate others about dual language/immersion education in schools.
Immersion program proponents typically argue that:
- Children tend to become fluent in the chosen language, even if it is not spoken at home;
- Children’s understanding of their native language may be enhanced, as they begin to see the roots of English words that are present in many foreign languages; and
- Children will have an easier time learning additional languages in the future.
On the contrary, others argue that:
- Children with language-based learning disabilities (for example: dyslexia) might have trouble with this type of language program;
- Children can be intimidated with the “sink or swim” approach used in immersion programs where they are “forced” to learn the language to survive in class; and
- Children can have difficulty with specific terminology in the subjects (such as math) taught in language immersion programs, and this can cause performance issues on standardized testing.
Regardless of which camp you may fall into, many families have turned to immersion programs for a variety of reasons as is evident by the number of students and even mainstream schools now offering similar programs, or abbreviated ones.
Browse our Education Directory of the region’s immersion programs, broken down by city and language.
This post originally appeared on Visit Twin Cities, which is now a part of Minnesota Monthly.