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Mandarin immersion in Idaho

March 9, 2012

MERIDIAN, Idaho (WTW) — Adam Li holds up a tomato and asks his kindergarten class to identify it.

“Fan qie!” a half-dozen students eagerly call out.

Li next holds up a potato.

The students quickly respond: “Tu dou!”

In the classroom next door, Susan Parker stands before her first-grade class using an interactive smart board to show various monetary combinations. She points to a $1 bill and a penny, inquiring about the amount. A dozen kids raise their hands. Parker calls on 6-year-old Keirstan Knutson

“Yi yuan ling yi fen,” answers Knutson, who comes to school from Mountain Home each day.

These scenes of kindergarten and first-graders speaking, reading and writing Mandarin Chinese does not take place in a distant land, but at a Meridian School District elementary school in West Boise.

Gateway School of Language and Culture is the only public elementary school in Idaho joining the national trend of adding Chinese to its curriculum, Principal Craig Ayala-Marshall said. It’s Meridian’s only dual-language elementary school program. Elsewhere in the Treasure Valley, the Boise district offers a Spanish dual-language program at Whitney and Whittier schools.

Please read more here.

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