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Elementary Students Speak, Read & Sing In Mandarin Chinese

BALTIMORE (WJZ)--It was the field trip of a lifetime for some Northeast Baltimore elementary school students.

Kai Jackson reports that they traveled to Washington to perform for the president of China, and Chinese visitors quickly learned these students were speaking their language.

They speak, sing, read and write Chinese.

"I love taking Chinese. It's a way to learn their culture and learn new stuff," said Cosette Young, 7.

They're students at Baltimore International Academy, a school dedicated to fully immersing students in foreign language.

The languages the school offers are "Russian, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish and French," said Grace Yador, school principal.

Students in the Chinese program were invited to see the president of China, Hu Jintao, who's visiting the United States to foster relations between the countries. President Jintao wasn't in attendance, but to students, it didn't matter.

"I think it's important because you know a lot about Chinese and you get to know great things about Chinese culture," said Anaiah Solomon, 9.

"I think it meant a lot to them. First of all, they think 'OK, I can speak Chinese,' and also, 'I can apply what I am learned' to their real life," said Ketin Xiao, Chinese teacher.

"We are training our students not only to be bilingual, but bi-literate," Yador said. "So, we expect them to be literate in English—their first language—and literate in their target language, which in this case happens to be Chinese."

Many of the teachers in the immersion programs are recruited from the countries where the language is spoken.

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