Students with bilingual skills have a significant career advantage in the global marketplace. If former Global Cleveland Director of Community Affairs Meran Rogers gets her way, Cleveland-area children will soon have an opportunity to spend up to fifty percent of each school day immersed in Mandarin Chinese or Spanish at GALA, a new charter school. With a preliminary agreement from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District in hand, Rogers plans to open GALA in August 2015. The goal is to produce bilingual, bi-literate students, giving them an advantage over their conventionally taught peers. Everything from science and math to art class will be taught bilingually.

 According to Rogers, “Immersion students outperform their non-immersion peers on standardized tests by the fourth grade.” As a student, “you’re constantly comparing, learning, relating, translating in your head, whether you know it or not.  Never underestimate the first seven years of a child’s life. They’re little geniuses running around.”

For Rogers, language learning has been a lifelong project. Her first language was an indecipherable combination of Taiwanese, Chinese, English and Polish because her Taiwanese father and Polish mother spoke almost no English when Meran was growing up. Later, after graduating from Case Western Reserve University, Meran taught third-graders in Taipei, Taiwan. At an age when many U.S. students have yet to start language instruction, her students were fluent in Taiwanese, Chinese and English!

Rogers wondered, ‘Why don’t we have this in America? In Taiwan, practically everyone is trilingual.” Armed with her experience, a masters’ degree in nonprofit management and vast quantities of research, Rogers is working hard to bring language to the Cleveland educational system. Global Cleveland wishes her the best!