Maybe you’ve heard of the method that some have talked about when teaching kids how to swim. It’s basically throw the student into the pool and see how they react. Well, I don’t suppose that’s a real effective way of teaching a person how to swim, but something like that is happening in the Iron County School District in the way of teaching students a new language. 

It’s called Dual Immersion, and in that program, students are taught in their native language for half the school day and another language for the other half of the day. There are two dual immersion programs currently being offered in the Iron County School District. One is in Spanish offered at East Elementary School and the other is Chinese, which is offered at Fiddlers Canyon Elementary School. Michelle Hall is the principal at Fiddlers. She was on the radio with us along with Bingbing Huang and Ruohan Gao who are the Chinese teachers at the school. 

Michelle told us, “so our Chinese teachers teach curriculum like math and science solely in Chinese, and those kids still learn it and perform very well on our end of year test.It almost seems to defy logic, but it it happens. Bingbing here teaches 3rd grade and for the last two years her math tests at the end of the year have almost been 100% pass. And the test is given in English.” 

Bingbing has been teaching at the school for several years and told us how she found here way to work at the district. “I came here for my masters degree at SSU. Actually before my (graduation) I was doing my internship at Fiddlers,” Huang told us.

L-R Gao, Hall, Huang / Photo Dr. T
L-R Gao, Hall, Huang / Photo Dr. T


Ruohan Gao also came to Cedar City to attend SUU. “I went to SUU, and I just graduated,” Gao told us and further explained, “for me SUU has like the connection with my high school. So I came here when I was in high school. So like I got the scholarship and I think it's a great opportunity for me to study abroad. So that's why I'm here.” 

Hall told us that the program is having success, saying, “it's really quite impressive. A lot of parents are hesitant. They think their kids can't do it or their kids already feel overwhelmed by school or they struggle learning or they have things like ADHD. We've had kids who came to fiddlers only speaking Spanish and then enter. Our dual immersion program, so they end up leaving fiddlers being very fluent in English, Spanish and Chinese, so it's quite impressive.” 

To enroll your student in the Dual Immersion program you just simply have to come in to the school and fill out a form. This year, Fiddlers will be accepting students in entering the first grade and the second grade.  

Our guests indicated that day one can be a little chaotic, as the Chinese teachers don’t speak English, even on the first day. So how do they communicate? Bingbing explained, “So for me, when I'm teaching, I use a lot of pictures, so like, I use a lot of body language as well. So at first, if they don't understand what I'm saying, but they at least know what I'm doing, so they they'll just follow my direction.” 

Michelle says they get a lot of office visits the first few weeks of the program, but in a couple weeks things settle down. 

Applications are now being accepted for the Dual Immersion programs for the 2024-2025 school year. You can learn more about the Dual Immersion program by clicking here. And you can listen to our entire segment with the Fiddlers Canyon staff members below.


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