A perennial point of curiosity among prospective parents—which can sometimes even linger for current parents—is whether Mandarin immersion comes at the expense of achievement in English. The great news from research—and from generations of CAIS students’ experiences—is that learning is not a zero sum game. In fact, learning in each language builds connections and pathways that support learning in the other. We see this borne out in a variety of ways with CAIS students; one data point that provides helpful perspective in the context of peer school comparison is the results from annual ERB tests of 4th-7th graders. These standardized tests gather information on students’ English verbal reasoning, reading comprehension, writing mechanics, and writing concepts and skills, as well as their quantitative reasoning and mathematics.
As we typically see each year, ERB results are one data point demonstrating the “bilingual bump” enjoyed by CAIS students, in which they outpace their monolingual peers by middle school in English reading, verbal, and writing skills. This spring 4th-7th grade parents joined English Curriculum Director Cristina Calcagno and an ERB testing consultant for a Zoom to learn more about the ERB CTP-5 assessment, which CAIS 4th-7th grade students took in late autumn this school year.
Our students are outperforming monolingual school peers in English, which underscores the findings that, over the course of elementary and middle school, dividing instructional time between two languages actually provides a gain in both.