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Parents launch “Utah Mandarin Families” to support Chinese learning

March 11, 2021

Guest post by Craig Watts

Utah has over 16,000 students in Chinese dual-language immersion programs, and its first cohort of K-12 students is now finishing their senior year in high school. At this critical juncture, Utah parents have formed Utah Mandarin Families, a statewide parent network to support Chinese learning and to brainstorm Chinese-related career paths.

In its first month, Utah Mandarin Families has launched a Facebook Group, advocated in support of the Confucius Institute, started a parent/school snapshot series, and recorded a video interview with Mandarin Immersion Parent Council blog writer Elizabeth Weise.  

Utah is the only state in the US that administers dual-language immersion at the state-level, so it makes sense for parents to organize at the state level as well. At a time when districts and schools are pulling back on support for trips to China and extracurriculars, UtahMandarin Families aims to function like a “parallel PTA” supporting extracurricular Chinese learning, organizing trips, and exploring China-related internships and careers.  

Chinese dual-language immersion programs first launched in Utah in 2009 and are now offered at 33 elementary schools. 

Utah Chinese immersion students typically pass the AP Chinese exam in 9th grade, and then move into the Bridge Program, where university-level courses are offered at high schools. Students take 3-credit language classes in grades 10-12, earning up to 9 hours of college credit upon high school graduation. 

Utah Mandarin Families aims to:

  • Providing opportunities to learn and apply Chinese beyond the classroom
  • Build connections with Chinese people on all levels: personal, family, school, state, educational, cultural, business/career
  • Help guide the development of the Utah Mandarin Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program
  • Identify and better leverage China-related partners and resources in education, business and government
  • Brainstorm China-related college and career paths including study abroad programs, internships, and non-profit opportunities

For more information on Utah Mandarin Families, please reach out to Craig Watts at cragunwatts [at]

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