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Mandarin immersion schools in the United States, 1981 – 2022: An update

April 17, 2021

The State of Mandarin Immersion: April 2021

By Elizabeth Weise

As of April there are 331 Mandarin immersion schools in the United States, up from 324 a year ago.

That increase of just seven schools is the smallest since 2006, though it of course comes in the midst of a global pandemic which has severely interrupted education and causes many school districts to put potential new programs on hold while focusing on re-opening schools to in-person learning.

New schools to the list that either opened in the fall of 2020 or will open next fall include:

  • CE Academy, a Mandarin immersion charter school opening in the fall of 2021 in Cary, North Carolina.
  • Science Language and Arts International School, a private K – 8 school in Brooklyn, New York. It has had a French immersion strand since opening in 2011 and added a Mandarin strand in the fall of 2020.
  • Rondo Elementary School, a new public Mandarin immersion program which will open in Eastvale, California in the fall of 2021.
  • Irvine International Academy, a K – 6 charter Mandarin immersion school in Irvine, California in Orange county. The founding principal is Steven Chuang, who was previously the principal at College Park Elementary School in San Mateo. College Park is a 14-year-old and highly sought-after Mandarin immersion program in San Mateo, California. The IIA will open in August 2021.
  • New Lexington School, a Mandarin immersion program in the El Monte City School District in Los Angeles county. It is a strand in the K – 6 school and launched in 2020-2021.
  • International School of San Antonio, this K – 5 school has long had a French immersion track and is adding a Mandarin strand in the fall of 2021.
  • Oberlin Magnet Middle School in Raleigh, North Carolina. This public middle school offers the continuation of the Wake County Public School System’s Mandarin immersion program which begins in Stough Elementary School.
  • Emanuele Elementary School, a public K – 5 school in the New Haven Unified School District in Union City, California which began offering a Mandarin immersion strand in the fall of 2020.
  • Westdale Middle School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana which launched its program in the fall of 2020 as a continuation of the Mandarin immersion program at Baton Rouge Foreign Language Academic Immersion Magnet.

I fear I have missed some new middle schools that have added Mandarin immersion as their district elementary schools graduate their first classes of fith graders. It can be difficult to find the middle schools because often there’s nothing written about them on the district websites, as parents in the program automatically know where the school feeds to. If you know of one I’ve missed, please tell me.

An update on the Global Ambassadors Language Academy in Cleveland, Ohio. In the fall of 2021 it will be adding a. 6th grade class, the beginning of its middle school!  The charter school has been adding a grade level each year since it was founded with Kindergarten and 1st grade in 2016.  It will add 7th grade in 2022/23 and 8th grade in 2023/24.   

One name change is the Northwest Chinese Academy of Beaverton, Oregon, a Portland suburb. It almost closed but instead (and happily!) merged with the German International School, also in Beaverton. The school now offers a Chinese immersion strand. I’ll have an article about what happened in the coming weeks.

There have also been some schools taken off the list. East Light Academy, a Mandarin immersion charter school in Charleston, South Carolina has closed. And Centner Academy in Miami, Florida was removed because although it originally launched in the fall of 2019 as an immersion program, but instead now offers Mandarin as one of six world languages.

One fun find is Brilliant Star Montessori School on the island of Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands. A Montessori school that goes through 6th grade, it appears to offer some form of Mandarin immersion, though exactly what type isn’t entirely clear what from their website The school itself was founded in 2000. It’s certainly the only Mandarin program in this U.S. Commonwealth and is located near Guam in the Philippine Sea.

Public schools still make up the vast majority of Mandarin immersion schools, 246 out of 331 that are either open now or will open next fall. Charter schools are 33 and private 53.

In terms of percentages, that’s 74% public, 9% charter and 16% private.

Simplified characters continue to be the most popular form taught, with only 13% of schools teaching traditional. That said, some schools do introduce traditional characters later on so students can read both.

I found another Catholic school that added Mandarin immersion, Saint Michael’s Catholic Academy in Flushing, New York. It launched immersion in 2013 by I only discovered it this year. That brings the total to three: All Souls Catholic School in Los Angeles, Maryknoll School in Honolulu and Saint Michael’s in Flushing.

Overall Mandarin immersion programs generally seem to have weathered the COVID-19 storm. 2021-2022 will be an interesting year. Fewer programs seem to be opening and the long-term reasons aren’t yet clear. I’ll update again next year and we’ll see what has happened.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Meran Rogers permalink
    April 19, 2021 7:22 am

    Hi Elizabeth, Thank you for sharing. I always appreciate your blog posts. I wanted to let you know that this coming school year, GALA will finally be adding 6th grade, the beginning of our middle school! We have been adding a grade level each year since we started with K-1 in 2016. We will add 7th grade in 2022/23 and 8th grade in 2023/24. I am sharing this so that you can also include GALA in your count for middle schools in however you track that. Thanks. -Meran

    On Sat, Apr 17, 2021 at 5:21 PM Mandarin Immersion Parents Council wrote:

    > Elizabeth Weise posted: ” The State of Mandarin Immersion: April 2021 By > Elizabeth Weise As of April there are 329 Mandarin immersion schools in the > United States, up from 324 a year ago. That increase of just five schools > is the smallest since 2006, though it of co” >

  2. Elizabeth Weise permalink*
    April 19, 2021 7:58 am

    Hi Meran,

    I will definitely add that to the list, I’m including programs launching in the fall. Congratulations.

    Beth

    From: Meran Rogers Date: Monday, April 19, 2021 at 7:22 AM To: Mandarin Immersion Parents Council , Elizabeth Weise Subject: Re: [New post] Mandarin immersion schools in the United States, 1981 – 2021: An update

    Hi Elizabeth,

    Thank you for sharing. I always appreciate your blog posts. I wanted to let you know that this coming school year, GALA will finally be adding 6th grade, the beginning of our middle school! We have been adding a grade level each year since we started with K-1 in 2016. We will add 7th grade in 2022/23 and 8th grade in 2023/24. I am sharing this so that you can also include GALA in your count for middle schools in however you track that. Thanks.

    -Meran

  3. Elizabeth Weise permalink*
    July 24, 2021 4:14 pm

    I’ve got you out to 8th grade now, thanks!

    From: Meran Rogers Date: Monday, April 19, 2021 at 7:22 AM To: Mandarin Immersion Parents Council , Elizabeth Weise Subject: Re: [New post] Mandarin immersion schools in the United States, 1981 – 2021: An update

    Hi Elizabeth,

    Thank you for sharing. I always appreciate your blog posts. I wanted to let you know that this coming school year, GALA will finally be adding 6th grade, the beginning of our middle school! We have been adding a grade level each year since we started with K-1 in 2016. We will add 7th grade in 2022/23 and 8th grade in 2023/24. I am sharing this so that you can also include GALA in your count for middle schools in however you track that. Thanks.

    -Meran

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