Monday, March 5, 2012
This is a Korean news article by reporter Jung Kyun Kim that has been translated in English.
History in English, Music in Spanish, Math and Science in Chinese
Beginning with preschool and elementary
Standard middle school curriculum to be formulated in the future
“Hello! Nihao! Como es estado?” At 8:30 am, the cheerful greeting of 17 students, who are gathered at one school parking lot in Costa Mesa, wakes the morning stillness. Whenever they say a greeting, three languages are pouring out from little mouths.
These are the students at Renaissance School International (RSI), OC campus (Representative, Carrie Mizera), a private elementary school (including preschool and Kindergarten) that opened in last September in Costa Mesa. With the claimed advantage that you can speak three languages without difficulty by graduation, this school attracted much interest from the county residents for its first lessons of the curriculum that is rarely found in the country.
The students, who have entered the school with the annual tuition of $10,000, learn not only English and Spanish but also Chinese. The unique point is that Spanish and Chinese are not learned as foreign languages. At this school, history is learned in English, music in Spanish, and math and science in Chinese. As an adult, there would be complaints of an immediate headache, but the 3 to 7-year-old students show a superb acquisition of lanugages with extraordinary ability of reading and speaking of Spanish and Chinese in only a couple of months.
Carrie, a Chinese lady, with her husband, Thomas Mizera, transferred the exact curriculum of the RSI that had been established in Panama City, Florida (Juliann Talkington as principal) 6 years ago. The OC campus, as the first sister school of RSI, is managed as a franchise. The total student body is limited to 30. It started as preschool – elementary school, but will ultimately teach middle school as the new students get older.
Another unique characteristic of this school is the incorporation of music and art in all subject lessons in order to cater to those students with attention deficiency. Representative Mizera explained, “There is a need to improve many facets because children develope their auditory, visual, and sensory skills at different period. And we apply various methods in order to bring to surface all hidden abilities to their maximum since children absorb languages like sponges.”
The teaching staff is comprised of total 6 people, out of which 4 are from minority groups, including 2 Chinese, 1 Bolivian, 1 Korean (Stacy Han). Lung Xang, the 26-year-old Chinese teacher explained, “I never use English in classes. The children are initially confused, but start understanding Chinese somewhat after 1 week and show surprising improvement in Chinese pronunciation after 2 weeks. These are very rare in adults.” Teacher Stacy Han is helping with children’s homework. She stated, “The school curriculum and environment are appropriate to develope the children’s ability. By looking at their homework, I can see how fast their Chinese and Spanish are improving.”
Curriculum by level
Each grade is composed of 5-6 students based on age and level (4-6). The number of levels increase with time and the growth of student body. Entrance is possible even in the middle of a semester, and the level is determined based on age. The current leveled curriculum is as follows:
Level 4 – Ages 2-3. Mostly writing letters and drawing pictures. Repeated lessons using simple flash cards are used for Chinese, Spanish, and English classes.
Level 5 – Ages 3-5. Studying vocabularies and reading/writing sentences. Math and science are taught in Chinese, and songs with motion are incorporated in all learning subjects.
Level 6 – Ages 5-7. Writing long sentences and naturally learning vocabularies and grammer. Math and science are also taught in Chinese. Math class is focused on developing creative problem-solving ability that has been derived from the math education in Singapore.
“Launching the franchise after more than 1 year of convincing” Representatives Mr. and Mrs. Mizera. Representative Carrie Mizera acts as the principal of RSI OC campus. Her husband, Thomas, manages all the administrative work. Both of them have the experience in working on international duties within banks and non-profit organizations. As the couple had realized the competitive edge of language ability, they wanted to develop the ability to speak more than 3 languages in their children. Thomas stated, “I wanted to send my 4-year-old son to RSI original campus in Florida, but had to give up because of the long distance. I felt that the teaching method of RSI was very essential to my child. Finally after convincing Principal Talkington for close to 1 year, I was able to establish the OC campus.” Carrie grew up in China, and immigrated to US at age 16. She is almost perfectly fluent in both Chinese and English.
Reporter Jung Kyun Kim