I live in Silicon Valley where Mandarin Chinese is widely spoken by the large Taiwanese and mainland Chinese community in the area. However, the schools in Cupertino only offer Mandarin immersion programs from Kindergarten or elective Mandarin programs in high school. A parent whose child does not go to the Mandarin immersion program and who does not have the resources to pay for an after school program has to wait until their child is 14 years old and in high school to learn one of the most widely spoken languages.
Spanish is also heard in various parts of Silicon Valley and all throughout the state; however, most California-born kids can’t roll an “r” or order themselves a meal in Spanish after several years of school Spanish.
Rhode Island, a state without a large concentration of Spanish or Chinese speakers is beating California by offering a trilingual immersion program in Spanish, Mandarin and English. See the Providence Journal article, Trilingual afterschool program is a first in R.I.
California education administrators better be embarrassed. Someday, California businesses may hire Rhode Island-taught tri-linguists to market products to Californian Chinese and Spanish language communities.
How is that for a slap in the face, California?
Wake up California state educators! The tiny state of Rhode Island is about to beat us at the language game. Those Rhode Island kids will learn to roll their rs, get all the Mandarin tones and write Chinese characters by the time Cupertino students are still figuring out how to spell California.