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French Immersion Taught Me to be Mindful

Lily Mahan
June 7, 2018

Portrait of Lily Mahan.

Portrait of Lily Mahan.
Photo by Jacob Van Blarcom, CLAgency student

Major: French

Graduated in: Spring 2017

What was your immersion experience?

When I was three, my mom enrolled me in a French Immersion preschool run by a very nice French woman named Veronique. Eventually, my older brother joined me. Because it was only a preschool-age program, we ended up in Edina at Normandale French Immersion for K-5. For middle school and high school, we did the Extended French program, which meant about 50-40 percent of our classes were taught in French at the middle school level, and then took advanced or AP French classes at the high school level. By the age of nine, most students in this system were fluent speakers and listeners of French, and by age 15, fluent readers and writers of French.

What is something you found challenging about your immersion experience?

In seventh grade, I found the transition from learning math in French to learning it in English to be extremely challenging. I wasn’t the best math student in the first place, so switching all the terms to English was really hard. I overcame this through the help of my math teacher, who gave me extra support both in and outside of class. For example, I would work on homework with her after school once a week. 

If you could describe your immersion experience in one word, what would it be and why?

Mindful. You don’t realize it growing up, but your immersion experience teaches you to be mindful of the world around you. From an early age you are exposed to concepts about culture, language, and history that kids in traditional school programs aren’t. Studies have shown that bilingual/multilingual children tend to be more tolerant and understanding of other cultures and differences in general than traditional students. 

How you do apply your immersion experience to your everyday activities and/or studies?

I am who I am today because of my immersion experience. It influences every part of my life and it is hard to differentiate one from another. I would say that I apply my immersion experience in everything I do, every day. 

In what ways has your immersion experience prepared you for where you want to go and what you want to do next?

I’d like to live and work in France in the near future, so my French skills that I developed through my immersion experience and honed at the U will help me get there. Graduate school is also on my radar, though I probably will not seek a higher degree in French.

This story is part of a larger article. Read more at Diverse Immersion Experiences Give Students an Edge.

This story was written by an undergraduate student account executive in CLAgency. Meet the team.