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A French take on Mandarin immersion in Los Angeles

March 17, 2013

Agence France-Presse

March 16, 2013 00:45
Chinese teaching growing in US, helped by Beijing

Susan Wang couldn’t speak English when she arrived in California from Taiwan, aged 16.

Now 49, she heads a school offering US children a similar experience, plunging them into a Chinese world.

And her establishment is part of a rapid expansion of “immersion” Mandarin language programs in the United States, helped notably by Beijing providing low-cost native-speaker teachers to cash-strapped US schools.

Pupils as young as five at her Broadway Elementary School in Venice, west of Los Angeles, take classes entirely in Chinese, in a project so successful that it is having to move to a new campus.

“The single most exciting thing has to be watching the kids learn, and how they learn, and how fast they pick up another language, it’s just amazing,” she told AFP, in a pause from her busy day at the bustling local school.

“I didn’t speak English when I came, so when it comes to dual language and language learning … it’s something close to my heart,” she added.

Chinese immersion programs are not new in American schools. But China’s rapidly expanding world role has fueled growing demand for Mandarin language skills, mirroring Washington’s diplomatic pivot across the Pacific.

Mandarin teaching has expanded nationwide over the last decade, in contrast to other foreign languages which have steadily decreased, according to data compiled by the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL).

“Mandarin is really taking off … Chinese was one of the few languages that increased, most other language offerings decreased, including French, German, and Japanese,” Nancy Rhodes of the Washingtonp DC-based CAL told AFP.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 22, 2013 3:42 pm

    Enrollment packets for the 2013–2014 school year for the Broadway Mandarin Immersion program in Venice are now available in the main office at Broadway Elementary School. The office hours for picking up enrollment packets are 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Please note that the enrollment packet is somewhat lengthy and requires several supporting documents, all of which are detailed on the cover page of the packet. You should allow yourself several days to complete/compile it. No incomplete enrollment packages will be accepted. Permits are NOT required at the time of enrollment. Please bring all required supporting documents along with your completed enrollment forms. The school will not be moving to another campus for the 2013-14 school year.

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