ST. CLOUD - This school year will mark 10 years of language immersion programs in the St. Cloud Area School District.

District 742 offers Chinese language classrooms at Madison Elementary and Spanish classrooms at Clearview Elementary. In a language immersion class, teachers communicate only in Spanish or Chinese while teaching students. Sue Linn-Hasbrouck is the immersion program coordinator with District 742, she says the programs also involve bringing over interns from other countries.

"We get interns from Spanish speaking countries and from China. They work with students in our immersion programs. It's a win-win because they get to improve their English and they get to learn about our educational system."

An interesting tidbit: Madison Elementary was the first school in the entire United States to host an Amity intern from China. The district is now in their fourth year of hosting interns from China and will have two this year. They will also have seven Spanish speaking interns from Spain, El Salvador, Chile and Colombia.

The original group of kindergarteners who enrolled in the district immersion program in 2007 are now entering high school. A Chinese immersion language arts class will be offered in the 9th grade and subsequent years for students in the program. For Spanish, the immersion students will be placed in the Spanish world language classes already being offered at the high schools. All other classes will be taught in English.

Linn-Hasbrouck says it's been great for the district and community to see the programs grow over the years. Just over a dozen kids enrolled in 2007, compared to over 40 last year.

"Immersion is teaching our kids about a global world. I kind of think of it as one of the best kept secrets in Central Minnesota."