So Why Did It Matter? A Mixed-Methods Exploration into the Impact of the Mandarin Immersion Journey for Alumni of Preschool to 8th Grade School

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executive functioning, heritage and non-heritage language learning, global competency
Brooks, Susan
To keep the United States economically competitive in a rapidly changing world, business leaders are calling for employment candidates who can work efficiently in a globalized context with both language skills and cross-cultural dispositions critical to the economic success of the country. These language proficiency skills and cross-cultural dispositions are fostered by duallanguage immersion programs; yet the benefits of a bilingual education for young adults had not been explored to date to concisely understand what leveragability they gain. This mixed methods research study with a sample of 38 young adults sought to answer the question: "What did it matter?" to explore how alumni of two San Francisco Bay Area dual language immersion programs describe the advantages they have as bilingual speakers of English and Mandarin. Results shows that most participants (75%) did not leverage their Mandarin skills during job interviews even though the majority of them are pursuing or planning on careers in business. After a substantial amount of time studying Mandarin in their lives, 82% of the non-heritage population were not using Mandarin at all in their workplaces and 3 respondents use Mandarin around 10-30% of the time. Implications are strong for research to explore where the journey to preparing biliterate young adults is broken down, and recommendations are given for universities to work with multinational companies to foster the capacity of alumni in specialized programs and internships. As only 7% of university students in the U.S take a world language course, it is imperative that research examines how the skills and dispositional capacity of our bilingual youth are unguided by the time they arrive in the job market; just when the economy needs them the most.