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What city has the most built-out Mandarin immersion program? Hint: It’s not in the United States

May 26, 2019

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If you answered Edmonton, Alberta in Canada, you’re either Canadian, a regular reader of this blog or an immersion junkie.

Edmonton has a population of about 1 million people and its school system has multiple “alternative” programs. In fact, almost every school in the district it home to at least one.

Because Canada is an officially bilingual nation, French immersion is hugely popular. But Mandarin is right up there.

Edmonton boasts a remarkable six Mandarin immersion elementary schools, four junior high schools and three high schools. It’s got about 101,000 students.

Compare that with the Los Angeles Unified School District, which has the most Mandarin immersion schools of any single district in the United States.* It’s got population of 4 million and has six elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school. LAUSD has about 600,000 students.

Edmonton also offers immersion in American Sign Language, Arabic, German, Hebrew and Spanish.

And for Mandarin, it’s got the phenomenal Edmonton Chinese Bilingual Education Association, which is remarkably organized and raises a lot of money to support the program, scholarships and other support. I know of several cities in the States that would like to clone them.

All of which is a long-winded start to an article about how popular the city’s alternative programs are, which you’ll find below. Now if it were only easier to move to Canada…

*I think. New York City might have more, but the New York system is so impenetrable I can’t tell. But they’re neck and neck.

From: The Edmonton Journal

Public school district wants suggestions to improve access to alternative programs

It’s the time of year when some Edmonton parents nervously await news of whether their children were accepted to alternative school programs.
Janet French

It’s the time of year when some Edmonton parents nervously await news of whether their children were accepted to alternative school programs.

Be it French immersion, a Christian alternative or arts enriched, programs with a specialized focus can be in high demand.

In suburban southwest Edmonton, Edmonton public school trustee Nathan Ip said Wednesday the population of children has grown so fast, little room remains to offer alternative programs at school buildings close to home.

“It is probably one of the most prevalent issues I hear about, other than busing and attendance area boundaries,” Ip said.

With about one-quarter of Edmonton public students enrolled in alternative programs, the district is undertaking citywide consultations on what, how and where it offers programs and asking whether it could do better. More than 100 of the district’s 213 schools host at least one of 34 alternative programs — and that number excludes programs for children with exceptional needs or specialty course offerings.

Please read more here.

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