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Orange County to get its first Mandarin immersion school

September 27, 2011
District to Develop County’s First Public School Mandarin Language Immersion Program

Trustees Approve Proposal to Offer World’s Most Spoken Language

Students in the Capistrano Unified School District will be able to learn the most spoken language on the planet, the Board of Trustees decided at its meeting on Monday night.

District staff will create a Mandarin Chinese immersion program, the first in an Orange County public school system, and one of about 80 nationwide, in time for the 2012-2013 school year.

“A challenging economic environment is no excuse for not being able to offer new and innovative educational programs requested by our community,” Board Clerk John M. Alpay said. “There is intense demand for this language, and in an era of school choice and competition, our ability to offer this program to our families reaffirms this District’s status as an innovative provider of quality education. Again, Capistrano Unified is demonstrating that it is capable of providing the education necessary for its students to succeed in a global marketplace.”

While English is the language spoken by academics, businesspeople, aviators, and other global professionals and is the world’s third most popular language, Mandarin is the world’s most spoken language with more than one billion speakers. The program has proven to be welcomed by parents countywide, with 165 families having committed their students to attend the program.

“The third pillar of the District’s strategic plan is academic achievement and enrichment. Adding this program fits right into the vision for helping student become successful in both college and career,” Trustee Anna Bryson said. “Allowing students this intense language focus will ensure that they are bilingual and biliterate when they graduate, which gives them an advantage over many of their peers who will not have this opportunity.”

Students who choose to attend the program would begin in kindergarten or first grade with 80 percent of instruction taking place in Mandarin. The program will be phased in with kindergarten, and, if feasible, first grade. The program will be placed at an existing school site, and utilize the same open enrollment policies currently in place for the District’s highly successful Spanish two-way immersion programs.

For more information on the Mandarin immersion program, please contact Amy Bryant, director of curriculum and instructional support, at (949) 234-9254.

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