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Federal Hill House starts State’s First Trilingual Immersion Program

Open House For State’s First Early Learner’s Trilingual Immersion Program Draws Crowd   

More than 100 people attended an open house at the Federal Hill House Association’s (FHHA) as the agency unveiled Rhode Island’s first early learning trilingual immersion program, Speak to Succeed, at the agency’s center on Courtland Street in Providence. The majority of the crowd were parents interested in the program, which is being implemented by FHHA in partnership with Global Language Project, an innovative non-profit organization addressing equality in education through foreign-language learning programs. The program is open to all. Immersion programs use the subject language as a teaching tool. Languages being taught are Chinese (Mandarin), Spanish, and English.

“It was a special day for everyone involved,” says Nina Pande, executive director, Federal Hill House Association. “We were excited not only by the crowd’s size, which was larger than expected, but also the reaction from parents attending the event. It was clear from our conversations with parents that there is both an interest and a need for a language-learning program. Educators from around the state that attended the open house also showed a high level of interest. We’d also like to thank Mayor Angel Taveras for stopping by to help us kick-off the program.”

Federal Hill’s program accommodates 50 early learning students (18 months to 5 years) and includes breakfast, lunch, and snacks, with both healthy food and ethnic food options. Eleven teachers (1 Mandarin, 3 Spanish, 7 English) support the program. The program’s goals are proficiency in the foreign languages, mastery of subject content taught in the foreign languages, and an appreciation of other cultures. Enrollment in the program is ongoing. Parents interested in learning more about Federal Hill House’s trilingual immersion program or enrolling their children in it can contact Nina Pande or Norma Gonzalez, the program’s coordinator, at 401-421-4722 to see a classroom demonstration.

Language immersion is a unique but proven method of teaching another language. Unlike traditional teaching approaches where the target language is the subject material, immersion uses the target language as a teaching tool, “immersing” the student in the language. In-class activities, such as math or science, and those outside the class, including meals and everyday tasks, are conducted in the target language. Culture and traditions are also covered. A number of different immersion programs have evolved since the method was first introduced in Canada in the 1960s.

Studies show that children who learn a second language at early ages enjoy huge benefits. They include:

  • Increased overall cognitive abilities including mental flexibility, creativity, problem solving, and retention
  • Better performance and higher scores on standardized tests and tests of basic skills (English, math, vocabulary and social studies)
  • Increased self-esteem and confidence through a sense of accomplishment
  • Fostered sense of cultural awareness reflecting today’s globalized world.

These studies also show that babies, toddlers, and pre-school children have a natural proclivity to learning languages and to develop near native-like pronunciation.

FHHA’s new program is based on the Creative CurriculumÃ’ Model for Preschool and pared with educational components from the Global Language Project. GLP’s mission is to equip students with foreign-language skills that will help them better compete in globalized world and workforce.  Through GLP’s comprehensive language-training program, students achieve fluency in a language other than English. The curriculum emphasizes traditional and experiential learning and was created by leading educational professionals.

About the FHHA

The Federal Hill House Association is a Providence-based human services agency serving a diverse community and delivering a wide range of client-focused services. Founded in 1887, it was formed as a settlement house to help Italian immigrants become acclimated to the New World and assimilate into the community. Today, the Federal Hill House has evolved into a multi-ethnic, social service nonprofit agency offering services designed to improve quality of life.

For more information about the Federal Hill House Association’s open house or to register for its new language learning program, contact the Federal Hill House Association, 9 Courtland Street, Providence, RI 02909, Tel: 401-421-4722. E-mail: fhh@federalhillhouse.org

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