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February 28, 2015
Updated: 2015-02-25 11:46

By Cai Chunying and Hua Shengdun in Washington(China Daily USA)

For Jule Byrd and Sean Hancock, second graders at Baltimore International Academy, Chinese New Year has added significance.

Jule and Sean were among the more than 140 pupils who staged a two-hour long performance gala in Baltimore on Monday evening, singing Chinese songs, dancing to Chinese music, acting in dramas based on Chinese tales and doing the catwalk in Chinese costumes. They are all in the public charter school’s Chinese immersion program, which covers kindergarten through eighth grade.

More than 200 school administrators, teachers and parents filled the cafeteria-turned performance hall, enjoying shows in a language that many do not understand.

“She impressed me every time she attended this kind of cultural event,” said Julius, father of Jule, who dressed in a red qipao, a traditional fitted Chinese garment for girls and women, and took part in three performances.

“My teacher sent practice clips to my mom’s email, and I used that to practice,” Jule said in Chinese. She said she also practiced during recess or intermission between classes for about one month, led by her own teacher.

In the immersion program, all subjects such as math and social studies are taught in Chinese so students become relatively proficient in the language. The academy has nine Chinese teachers. The 643-student school has immersion programs in four other languages: Spanish, French, Russian and Arabic.

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