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Idaho Mandarin immersion program maxes out its school

August 5, 2019

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From: The Jefferson Star

South Fork Elementary Mandarin Chinese program reaches full capacity

South Fork Elementary School Principal Richard Howard said students can’t get enough of the school’s Mandarin Chinese program.

Six years after its initial inception, the program — one of just 278 in America — has reached full capacity. The program is just one of three immersion programs offered in Idaho (Gateway School of Language and Culture in Boise is the second.) Rigby Middle School started its first Mandarin Chinese program this year due to more students taking Mandarin at South Fork Elementary.

The school district also has Spanish Immersion at five elementary schools (Farnsworth, Harwood, Jefferson, Roberts and Rigby Middle School.)

For South Fork Elementary, the program had 50 to 56 students per class when it started in 2013. During the last three years, the immersion program has reached its 60-student maximum at the kindergarten, first- and second-grade levels — with even a short waiting list, Howard said.

“I think one of the biggest changes is that it is more accepted now,” said Howard, who has a Chinese fan sitting on top of his office cabinet. “The community can see a value in it.”

The program has not only helped diversify the school’s learning environment, but it’s also improved proficiency test scores across the district.

Please read more here.

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