Mandarin Immersion Options

In our language immersion classroom, our teachers use only Mandarin during either the morning or the afternoon, depending on scheduled.  Understanding that our students will not understand everything they say at first, they use a variety of methods to communicate: body language, context clues, gestures, exaggerated facial expressions, expressive intonation, visual aids, and objects to communicate meaning.

It is common for the children to communicate with each other in English, however they will be actively encouraged to use Mandarin when responding to questions or asking for assistance. The older children in language immersion classrooms often act as natural, unprompted translators for the younger ones. In a very short amount of time the children begin understanding basic instructions and information delivered in Mandarin. It is typical for children begin speaking spontaneously and expressing their own thoughts in their second language in less than a year.

The acquisition of a second language has five commonly recognized stages. These stages take place over general time periods during which the student is exposed to the second language. Each time period is associated with a set of expected outcomes, and, although this will of course vary from student to student, it provides educators with a frame of reference. Three of these stages are attainable during your child’s time at Little Seeds of Park Slope. See the table below:

Stage One: Preproduction

Expected Outcomes and General Characteristics

The student…

Has minimal comprehension

Does not verbalize

Nods “Yes” and “No”

Draws and points

Amount of Exposure to a Second Language

0–6 months of study

Teacher Prompts

Show me…

Circle the…

Where is…?

Who has…?

Stage Two: Early Production

Expected Outcomes and General Characteristics

The student…

Has limited comprehension

Produces one- or two-word responses

Participates using key words and familiar phrases

Uses present-tense verbs

Amount of Exposure to a Second Language

6 months – 1 year of study

Teacher Prompts

Yes/No questions

Either/or questions

One- or two-word answers



Stage Three: Speech Emergence 

Expected Outcomes and General Characteristics

The student…

Has good comprehension

Can produce simple sentences

Makes grammar and pronunciation errors

Frequently misunderstands jokes

Amount of Exposure to a Second Language

 1–3 years of study

Teacher Prompts




Phrase or short-sentence answers

Source: adapted from The Natural Approach: Language Acquisition in the Classroom by Krashen and Terrell. 1995