Frequently Asked Questions

What is an immersion program?

In an immersion program, students are taught curriculum in a second language.  Language is the medium for teaching content rather than the subject of instruction.  The students learn both content and functional fluency in the second language.  A partial immersion program delivers a portion of the curriculum in a second language, whereas a full immersion program teaches all core subjects in the second language.

What do I need to know about the Chinese Immersion Program at Potomac?

Potomac Elementary School offers a partial immersion program in Mandarin Chinese. The Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) math and science curricula are taught in Chinese.  Students also receive one hour of direct language instruction in Chinese each week.  The other half of the students' day is conducted in English for reading and language arts.  Immersion students are taught the same MCPS curriculum as their peers in Montgomery County.  The immersion students also participate fully in extracurricular activities, specials and lunch and recess at Potomac ES.

Will two languages confuse my child or hinder his or her English language skills?

No.  Research indicates that second language learning has a positive effect on intellectual growth.  It enhances mental development and improves flexible thinking.  It opens the door to new cultures and a greater appreciation of the world around us.  Second language learning also builds an excellent foundation for college and later career choices.  In addition, standardized test scores at our school show that the Chinese immersion students perform as well as, if not better than, their peers in regular English programs.

Which students will benefit from immersion?

Potomac Elementary School's Chinese program, like any other immersion program, is suitable for learners of all abilities. However, children with serious delays or those who lack proficiency in the development of the English language or with auditory processing, auditory memory or general auditory impairment may not be successful in an immersion program.

How can I help my child with homework?

Our immersion teachers thoroughly explain homework assignments to students and work closely with their colleagues in the English program to review and reinforce, as necessary, assignments. Our teachers will often include an explanation on homework to assist parents with the content of the assignment. When requested, our teachers will send home a list of the most important math and science vocabulary words and definitions in both languages to help parents keep up with everyday work.

If my child does not enter in kindergarten, can he/she enter the program in first grade?

Yes.  Later entry to the program depends on spaces available. At the start of the school year, the teacher will review targeted Chinese vocabulary from kindergarten content areas, so newcomers--as well as returning students--receive a primer for first grade.

Are the children expected to speak only Chinese in the classroom?

At the start of kindergarten, students will be able to respond in simple one-word Chinese. As they progress, students will increase their Chinese responses, but will primarily speak in English when asking questions or talking to peers.

Does Chinese immersion continue after students complete elementary school at Potomac?

Yes.  Students can opt for the Chinese immersion program at Herbert Hoover Middle School.  Hoover MS has a rigorous language program that prepares students for AP Chinese classes at Churchill High School. While in middle school, students will master reading, writing, and speaking skills with a goal of reaching a level 4 by the start of high school.

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