The Late Entry Immersion Program (LEIP) at HWIS  is designed to enable motivated and capable elementary students to join our immersion program without prior exposure to Mandarin or Spanish language. Students learn alongside our current immersion students, and are provided extra support via after school tutoring to ensure success in learning academic content in a new language.

Below is a conversation between Sharon Huang, HWIS founder, and Madison C., the mother of a current LEIP student.

Sharon Huang:  Can you give me a background on yourself and why it is you chose HWIS for your son, Mason?

Madison C.:  My mother is from Taiwan, and my dad is from China, but both ended up in Taiwan and eventually emigrated to the U.S. I was born here in the U.S. We spoke Mandarin at home and my parents tried unsuccessfully to have us go to the weekend Chinese school when I was in middle school. It didn’t work, and as a result, I am not literate in Chinese. My husband is in the same situation, except his parents spoke Cantonese. Because neither Cantonese nor Mandarin are common to both of us, we find ourselves speaking English at home. With each year as my preschooler and kindergartener got older, it was getting more and more difficult trying to teach them any Mandarin. We had a great experience with summer camp at HudsonWay Immersion School, and when it came time for my kindergartener to switch schools, I looked into HWIS.

SH:  What was the experience like for you as a family, and for Mason, who started at HWIS in Grade 1 this past September?

MC:  When I came for the open house, Plutus (Assistant Director) and Tracie (NJ Admissions Manager) reassured me that Mason could receive additional tutoring after school if needed.  He came in with zero Mandarin.  I told him that he would have to work hard, but that in a few months he would be better than mom or dad in something.  At first, he would tell me he was tired and that he couldn’t understand the teacher. I couldn’t help him with his homework and asked my mother to spend time helping him.  My mother would Facetime with him, asking him to read back the passages until he got it perfectly.  Sometimes it would take 30 minutes, sometimes an hour.   His motivation was not to have to spend time with my mother and so he learned quickly.   After a few months, things seemed to get much easier.  He loves this school and doesn’t want anything about it to change.

SH: Do you think he understands that he is learning Chinese in a special environment?

MC:  I don’t think he can distinguish learning in Chinese from learning in general.  The other day, he asked his friend whose father is Irish but has black hair, if he is Chinese.  Maybe that means at least he is somewhat curious about what it means to be Chinese.

SH:  For those parents who may be thinking about a LEIP program in K, 1st or 2nd grade, what thoughts would you share with them?

MC:  If your child is interested, you should try it.  I think parents might be afraid that it’s too hard, and that if you can’t help them that there’s no way their child can learn this.  I can’t help my child with his homework at all but this has helped him become more independent and responsible.  My mother who was skeptical at first now feels it’s been really worth the investment.  My younger child is now in the preschool program but for my older son, Mason, better late than never.