Shu Ren International School
Berkeley, CA
Mandarin-English Immersion
Pre-K to 8th Grade
An IB World School
Berkeley, CA
Shu Ren International School
Berkeley, CA
info@shurenschool.org
510-841-8899
Mandarin-English Immersion
Pre-K to 8th Grade
An IB World School
Berkeley, CA
Shu Ren International School
Berkeley, CA
Mandarin-English Immersion
Pre-K to 8th Grade
An IB World School
Berkeley, CA

Language Immersion, Especially Early On, Helps Kids

New research shows the cognitive and developmental benefits of not just language learning at an early age, but specifically language immersion programs. From Education News: Theresa Caccavale, president of the National Network for Early Language Learning (NNELL), (www.nnell.org) states, “Children who learn a foreign language beginning in early childhood demonstrate certain cognitive advantages over children who do not.” Some of those advantages are understanding object permanence, problem solving, greater critical thinking skills and increased creativity. “There is also a relationship between foreign language study and increased mathematical skill development.” In the same article, Martha G. Abbott, the Director of Education for the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), (www.actfl.org) says that immersion programs work because the learning of the second language is a tool, a vehicle, for content for general education curriculum. Consequently, two things are accomplished: the student learns content (for example – math) and the second language. Abbott also insists that all students can learn a second language in this way. Some students will have a natural talent for learning language and learn it quickly. But all students will benefit from the...

Mobile Learning Devices

I read an interesting article in KQED’s MindShift today about the exciting potential of mobile learning. You know, eReaders, tablets & even smart phones! Harvard professor Chris Dede, who’s researching the diverse dimensions of mobile learning, says ““We know from generations of work that devices are catalysts. The device never produces learning, but when coupled with changes in content, new forms of assessment, linking people together, that’s what enables learning.” I know that I have a preference for audial learning – I always retain more from lectures I’ve heard or conversations I’ve had. I’ve enjoyed watching the positive reaction my child has to listening to “books on tape” and the audio tours at the zoo and aquarium. She’s acquired quite an impressive collection of animal facts! She also enjoys reading stories on a computer, especially when there’s a the post-quiz for comprehension. The website recommended by her reading teacher, StarFall.com, is a particular favorite. And she also enjoys the occasional video-chat with her grandparents in MS and auntie in faraway Germany. Sometimes they even share songs in a sort-of global jam session! Imagine what a rich learning environment could be created with content designed to take advantage of the features of a mobile device – images, audio, video, chat / collaboration, various apps for feedback and interaction. How much more engaged could kids be? Links: http://mindshift.kqed.org/2011/07/mobile-learning-are-we-on-the-cusp-of-something-big/...

The Trouble with Homework

There’s been a LOT of discussion in the media lately about homework (see links, below) – its value to learning, the volume, and whether it may be discriminatory to children who don’t have help at home to get homework done. In fact, due at least in part to the discrimination concern, LA Unified just adopted a new policy making homework only worth 10% of a class grade! It seems to me that doing homework which repeats work done in class is good for Math – kind of like practicing an instrument or mastering the skills of a particular sport. I tend to agree with Malcolm Gladwell about the “10,000 hours to expertise” rule. And I’ve seen some kids I know master soccer and gymnastics skills through hours and hours of determined practice. One of the guests in the KQED program, Alfie Kohn, got my attention when he said, “knowledge cannot be reinforced, only behavior can.” That really makes sense to me. Sure, I want my child to learn math, but I also want her to “learn how to learn” and to experience the joy that comes from figuring out something for herself. The IB constructivist/inquiry approach to learning supports this “learn how to learn” approach. Yes, there is homework in IB but, generally speaking, the work isn’t merely a repeat of what was done in class. Rather, the homework enables the child to further engage in the inquiry and should be able to complete the work on their own! What do you think? Links: David Brooks Blog KQED Forum [Photo by Simon Shek via flickr CC...

Kung Fu Panda 2 – A Positive Message for ALL kids!

As it turns out, Kung Fu Panda 2 was a great movie! My daughter and I both enjoyed seeing the characters again and story was as good as the first movie. Po the Panda learns the story of his adoption and aims to find his “real parents.” But through the story, he realizes he is very much his (goose) father’s son and learns, “no matter where you come from, what matters most is who you choose to be today!” I hope you enjoy Kung Fu Panda 2 as much as we did...

The Benefits of Bilingualism

The New York Times has an interview with cognitive neuroscientist, Ellen Bialystok, who has discovered through her research that bilingualism has many cognitive advantages, including delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms: Q. Many immigrants choose not to teach their children their native language. Is this a good thing? A. I’m asked about this all the time. People e-mail me and say, “I’m getting married to someone from another culture, what should we do with the children?” I always say, “You’re sitting on a potential gift.” There are two major reasons people should pass their heritage language onto children. First, it connects children to their ancestors. The second is my research: Bilingualism is good for you. It makes brains stronger. It is brain...

Kung Fu Panda 2 and "adoption theme"

The second Kung Fu Panda movie from Dreamworks is opening this week and we’re planning to see it. We loved the first movie! My ears perked up when I saw a trailer last night…the trailer shows the Panda realizing he’s adopted (his father is a Goose) and expressing his desire to find “his real family.” Many of us with adopted children have some sensitivity to language (preferring a term like “birth parent” over “real parent”) and to how an adoption story is told. So I went to the movie’s website and publicity sites containing quotes from the movie’s voice characters (including Angelina Jolie) which mention the movie’s “adoption theme,” but not much more. If anyone knows of any details of the story and – more importantly – whether the adoption details are handled with care / grace / honesty, I’d love to know more. And if anyone sees the movie before we do, please share your...