Skip to content

Vancouver BC looks to Edmonton with jealousy when it comes to Mandarin immersion

September 6, 2016

A great overview of Canada’s Mandarin immersion landscape. It’s remarkable that 43% of the greater Vancouver area in British Columbia is Asian-Canadian, and yet it has only three small program. Edmonton, in Alberta, by contrast has a vibrant and large immersion program.

Also check out the stories at the end by the dad whose daughter speaks Mandarin and how it helped her get jobs, even in high school. A good one to tell the kids!


Metro Vancouver losing competitiveness due to lack of language immersion programs


Bing Thom and Loretta Kong still remember when Kong interviewed for a position with the renowned Vancouver-based architect’s firm in 2007.

“She spoke English, Mandarin and Cantonese,” said Thom, adding that was a key reason for hiring the young architect. “Loretta studied Chinese history and was immersed in the culture.”

Kong, now an associate with Shape Architecture in Vancouver, is a product of the extensive bilingual-immersion programs in Edmonton schools. Kong took half of her elementary and high-school classes in Mandarin Chinese.

“I do remember him being very surprised,” she recalled of the meeting with Thom. “It did impress him that a smaller centre like Edmonton had a program like this for more than 20 years.”

Since 1984, the Alberta capital has offered one of the largest Mandarin Chinese programs in Canada, with 2,009 students enrolled in 13 schools. It is the school district’s second-most-popular bilingual-immersion program, behind French with 3,703 student. What’s more, Edmonton also has 1,335 students in its Arabic program, in addition to having comparable programs for German, Hebrew, Spanish, Ukrainian and American Sign Language.

By comparison, Metro school, serving a much larger population, have about 500 students in total in immersion Mandarin programs.

As the school year starts, some parents are again demanding that B.C. — Canada’s gateway to the Pacific — should be doing more to increase foreign-language competency among students. The alternative, they say, is an increasingly uncompetitive workforce, especially when compared to graduates of programs like Edmonton’s.

Please read more here.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: