So much goes into selecting a school. As parents, we weigh class size, diversity, public vs. private—all aspects motivated by the same aim: to give our children the very best education we can. In our increasingly global world, immersion education, where content such as math, science and language arts are taught in two languages, is an important type of education to consider. Because it is a relatively new and growing trend popping up in public and independent education, it’s vital to know what to look for in a program.
Founded by a mom in 2005, HudsonWay Immersion School is the oldest and and most established immersion school in the Northeast, educating children from preschool to middle school in full-immersion Mandarin or Spanish environments on two campuses: in Stirling, NJ and the brand new expanded facility in Midtown West, New York, NY. Read on and learn about the proven benefits of mastering dual-fluency from a young age—when brains are most receptive to language learning.
1. Improved Cognitive Skills
The data is in! Nationwide, HudsonWay Immersion School (HWIS) students are outscoring monolinguals on related standardized tests, conducted in English. In tests of cognitive ability, a whopping 97% of students who experience full immersion for four years or more test as gifted or of above-average intelligence. HWIS students also surpass proficiency benchmarks set for immersion schools as a whole. While test performance certainly isn’t the only measure of note, the benefits expand to critical thinking as a whole: bilinguals in general have a proven edge with pattern recognition and problem solving.
2. Higher Second Language Proficiency
There’s immersion, and then there’s immersion. While more schools are offering 50:50 immersion, HWIS students learn with full-immersion, meaning 90-60% of core curriculum is conducted in either Mandarin or Spanish—beginning in preschool and on through elementary years (and HWIS now goes through eighth grade). This additional exposure results in a faster path to fluency, which correlates to strong reading, writing and math skills in the target language for HWIS students, the majority of whom don’t actually speak their target language at home. In standardized language assessments measuring listening, reading, writing and speaking, HWIS students surpass the national norms as compared to other immersion students.
3. Off-the-Charts Creativity
While it sounds simplified, you might say monolingual learning translates to one way of thinking. Bilinguals have been shown to excel at divergent thinking, the idea that various solutions might be explored…leading to creative thinking! With thought processes honed in both native and target languages, that divergent thinking is baked into each and every subject each and every school day.
4. Cultural Understanding and E.Q.
In 2019, cultural knowledge cannot be underestimated. At HWIS, students as young as five even have the opportunity to travel abroad (with their families!) to learn with local children. And in the classroom, benefits of a bilingual education reach well beyond academic performance. Immersion students can exhibit advanced emotional intelligence as well, including mature social skills and an increased awareness of and sensitivity to diverse cultures. After all, today’s classrooms are educating tomorrow’s workers, volunteers and parents, who will pursue careers and opportunities that are ever more global and connected. It’s critical that we expose children early and often to the beautiful gifts of diversity.
5. Plus, Everything Else You Expect from a Strong School
With 200 students and 40 faculty across its two campuses, HWIS benefits from small class sizes and a 6:1 student-to-teacher ratio, meaning students have plenty of opportunities to participate in class, practice their target language and work together with their peers. After-school enrichment programs, summer camps and an active parent association are also all available for an integrated immersion experience all designed to help students thrive on a global stage.
Learn more about immersion education and HudsonWay Immersion School by attending an upcoming information session or scheduling a private tour at HWIS.ORG.
— Jennifer Massoni Pardini
all photos courtesy of HudsonWay Immersion School