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Dual Language Immersion
Dual language immersion is an education model that provides an enriched learning experience by teaching students core academic content in two languages: English and the targeted immersion language (i.e. Mandarin, Spanish). The goal is for all students to become bilingual and bi-literate while achieving at a high academic level and developing cross-cultural skills.
Informed by our research, school visits, national best practices and needs of our anticipated student population, GALA implements a one-way (also known as foreign), dual language immersion model in both the Mandarin Immersion Program (MIP) and Spanish Immersion Program (SIP).
Students at GALA receive instruction in the target language (Mandarin or Spanish) across all academic subjects (math, reading, science, and social studies). In grades K-2, instruction is provided in the target language for 70% of the school day and in English for 30% of the school day. In grades 3-5, instruction is provided in the target language for 60% of the school day and in English for 40% of the school day. In grades 6-8, instruction is provided in the target language for 50% of the school day and in English for 50% of the school day.
This model will involve two teachers per grade (K-8): one to provide instruction exclusively in the target language and the other to provide instruction exclusively in English. The goal is for all students to become bilingual and bi-literate while achieving at a high level of academic success, developing cross-cultural skills and globally competitive for the 21st century.
One detail specific to Mandarin literacy is important to note – GALA will introduce characters only in grades K-1, and introduce pinyin in grade 2 (pinyin is the phonetic system for transcribing Mandarin pronunciations of Chinese characters into the Latin alphabet). Given the sociolinguistic context of the U.S. and the relative lack of exposure to characters in the immediate environment, a premature introduction of pinyin will likely hinder character literacy development. GALA recognizes the special challenge of developing high levels of Mandarin literacy and the importance of children first making meaning with characters. This model is also best practice among Mandarin immersion program across the country – to first introduce students to Chinese characters only and wait until either the second semester of grade 1 or beginning of grade 2 to introduce pinyin.
Academic: Students outperform their non-immersion peers on math and reading standardized tests starting in the 3rd grade.
Language and literacy: Immersion has no negative effects on English proficiency, and students develop native-like proficiency in the second language.
Cognitive skills: Students develop greater cognitive flexibility, increased attention control, better memory, superior problem-solving skills, and enhanced understanding of their primary language.
Socio-cultural: Students develop positive multiethnic and multicultural attitudes, are better prepared for the global community, and possess 21st century skills.
Economic: Students with competence in more than one language and culture will be better qualified and competitive for high-level, high-paying 21st century jobs.
One-way: Most of the students in the class enter with little or no language skills in the target language (Mandarin or Spanish)
Dual Language: refers to any program that provides literacy and content instruction to all students through two languages, and that promotes bilingualism and bi-literacy, grade-level achievement, and multicultural competence for all students.
50/50: Approximately 50% of the instruction is delivered in English and 50% in the target language (Mandarin, Spanish).