The recent decision to continue and expand the Mandarin dual-language program at Glenwood Elementary school puts the proper value on knowing a second language — especially one as uncommon and practical as Mandarin Chinese. Moreover, problems with overcrowding should not discourage the expansion of this program, as they are necessary growing pains in the pursuit of an education system that strives to offer programs beyond the basic.
Therefore, Glenwood or some other school within the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school system should seek to further these programs to their fullest by exploring the possibilities of creating full immersion program in Mandarin Chinese and other languages.
The current programs were partially born out of the necessity to accommodate both students that speak English and those that speak other languages. However many now see it as a great learning opportunity for their children.
This sentiment should be embraced as it could serve both purposes of accommodation of those who do not speak English as a first language and development of language skills in those that do.
In an increasingly globalized world, it is ignorant to think that knowledge of solely the English language will always be enough. Proficiency in a second language will open doors that would have remained shut much later in life.
Beyond this there are studies that show learning a second language can increase cognitive development. Though this effect is evident at all levels of learning, it is only fully realized when the second language is mastered. Therefore, though the current program already does offer this positive effect on development, expansion to a full immersion program would increase these benefits tenfold.