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U.S. home to 119 Mandarin immersion programs, analysis finds

July 30, 2012

When the new school year starts, the United States will have at least 119 schools offering Mandarin immersion programs, a Mandarin Immersion Parents Council analysis finds. The list is based on information gathered by the MIPC, schools that have sent information to the MIPC, and lists compiled by the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington D.C. We believe it to be the most complete list available of Mandarin immersion programs currently in existence.

Before 2000 there were only 13 Chinese immersion schools in the U.S. The other 97 all came into being after the 2002-2003 school year. The past three years have seen an enormous growth in these schools.

Most Mandarin immersion schools are public. We counted 74 public school, 17 charter schools and 29 private schools.

The oldest Mandarin immersion program in the nation is the private Chinese American International School, a K-8 founded in 1981. In 1997 the Pacific Rim International School in Emeryville, Calif. was founded, originally in Berkeley. The oldest public is Potomac Elementary School in Potomac, Maryland, founded in 1986. That same year the International School of the Peninsula, a private school in Silicon Valley, opened. In 1998 the west coast’s first public Mandarin immersion program, at Woodstock Elementary School, was launched in Portland, Ore.

But most Mandarin immersion programs are very, very new. So new that few programs have had time to go beyond the elementary school years. Of the schools where it was possible to tell what grades were covered, there were 99 elementary schools, 20 middle schools and only one high school offering Mandarin immersion programs

Of the 119 schools in the United States with Mandarin immersion, 108 were started in 2002 or later.

 Year Programs started
2012 21
2011 14
2010 17
2009 16
2008 10
2007 17
2006 3
2005 5
2004 2
2003 1
2002 2

The two powerhouse states when it comes to Mandarin immersion are California and Utah, with 34 and 25 programs respectively. Minnesota with seven and Oregon with six are the next closest.

State Schools
California 34
Utah 25
Minnesota 7
Oregon 6
Colorado 5
Illinois 5
Florida 4
Michigan 4
New York 4
Arizona 3
Maryland 3
North Carolina 3
Washington 3
Georgia 2
Louisiana 2
New Jersey 2
Washington D.C. 1
Idaho 1
Indiana 1
Oklahoma 1
South Carolina 1
Texas 1
Wisconsin 1

In addition to Mandarin immersion, there are five Cantonese immersion schools in the United States, including three elementary, one middle and one high school, all within in the San Francisco Unified School District. The oldest public Chinese immersion program in the nation is West Portal Elementary School. It was begun as a strand at West Portal in 1984.

Internationally, there are 17 Mandarin immersion programs in Canada, 12 in Edmonton and five in or near Vancouver, British Columbia. There are three Mandarin immersion programs in Australia and at least one that we’ve found in Budapest, the Magyar-Kinai Altalanos Iskola.


Special thanks to Joan Fang, whose son will begin in the Mandarin immersion program at Bergeson Elementary in the Capistrano Unified School District in Orange County this fall. She volunteered to input the schools the MICP had collected into a spreadsheet. Her work made it possible to analyze information about the programs.

            We’ll be posting the full list on the MIPC site as soon as we clean it up a bit, then we’ll find out the schools we’ve missed. We expect there are more than 119 out there.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Norma Ho permalink
    July 30, 2012 12:41 pm

    Thank you so much for the study on this! Great info!

  2. August 26, 2015 4:31 pm

    How can I find out which schools in the states listed above offer Chinese? We are considering relocating, but it is essential that the elementary schools in the area offer Mandarin, and we don’t even know where to begin.


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