The Stafford Municipal School District recently welcomed education professor Dr. James Lee and his students from Soochow University in Taiwan.
“Stafford MSD is a very diverse school district where our student body speaks a total of 33 different languages,” Stafford MSD Superintendent Dr. Robert Bostic said. “We were glad that Dr. Lee and his students had a positive experience on our campus. Programs such as these serve as a valuable cultural exchange for the student-teachers from Taiwan, and our entire SMSD community.”
The visit, arranged by Maria Dudash, Stafford’s director of bilingual/ESL education, highlighted Stafford MSD’s Chinese Dual Language Immersion Program, which became the first of its kind in Texas when it was established in 2009.
Lee and his teacher interns visited Stafford Primary and Stafford Elementary schools’ Chinese immersion classes, and taught lessons to students, in kindergarten through fourth grade.
The teacher interns taught the SMSD students about Taiwanese music, dance, culture and more.
“We enjoyed our visit and would welcome the opportunity to return,” Lee said.
After the teachers visited with the SMSD students, they enjoyed a luncheon with Bostic, Dudash, Stafford Primary Principal Karen Hatter and Alice Chen, community liaison for Congressman Al Green’s office. Chen was instrumental in bringing the Chinese Dual Language Immersion Program to SMSD.
Stafford MSD also has a Vietnamese Language Enrichment Program in grades kindergarten through fourth and Spanish Dual Language classes from pre-kindergarten to second grade, adding a grade level each year.
In a global economy, language immersion and dual language programs assist students reach the goal of graduating from SMSD college or career-ready, without remediation. Early language learning has cognitive and academic benefits beyond facility with languages.
These advantages include increased mental flexibility, and improved divergent thinking. Some studies also show higher scores on measures of verbal ability in the subject’s native language and enhanced student’s understanding of the structure and patterns of English.