Skip to content

Baton Rouge Mandarin teachers were paid as subs, parent effort got them raises

April 14, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 4.54.43 PM

Chinese language teachers at Baton Rouge school get pay raise after parents advocate cause

From: The Advocate

Chaoqing “Mary” Wang never made more than $10,800 a year – barely minimum wage – during her two years working as a first-grade teacher at a popular foreign language immersion school in Baton Rouge.

The original Mandarin Chinese kindergarten teacher the school hired back when the program started in August 2014, Min Zhang, has never made more than $18,900 a year. That’s also what second-grade teacher, Yujie Liu, has been making. That works out to $105 a day or $13.13 an hour.

By contrast, the rest of the faculty at BR FLAIM  — short for Baton Rouge Foreign Language Academic Immersion Magnet — earn more than twice that amount. The starting salary for an East Baton Rouge Parish public school teacher is $44,500 plus benefits, and many teachers’ salaries top $50,000 a year.

Indeed, the two other Mandarin Chinese teachers at this elementary school, both hired last August, earn $44,500 and $45,700, respectively.

The lower pay for the three Mandarin Chinese teachers is the result of their classification as substitute teachers. Despite the fact that they work the same hours as other teachers, they are paid less and get no benefits. And if they get sick or otherwise miss work for any reason, they don’t get paid.

Please read more here.


What happens in high school in your Mandarin immersion program?

April 8, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 5.06.37 PM

What happens to kids who start in Mandarin immersion in Kindergarten when they hit high school? And once they’re through, what happens in college?

There’s precious little data out there about what options our kids have in high school and what it means for them in college. There aren’t many programs that have gotten to high school yet and of those that have, not many have graduated multiple classes yet.

Sharon Huang, the founder of Hudson Way Immersion School in New York City and Summit, NJ, is putting together a workshop on the topic for the upcoming National Chinese Language Conference in Salt Lake City in May (and you should be fund-raising to send your teachers if your school isn’t able to pay their way!)

Sharon and I spoke and because there’s no national data available, I told her I’d put out a request to parents for at least some anecdotal information. So if you’ve got kids in high school who did Mandarin immersion (or if you know what your district or school had planned) some questions below. I’ll pass answers along to Sharon and will also write them up for the blog.

  • What school and school district are you in?
  • Does your program have a clear pathway from Kindergarten through 12th grade?
  • What happens in high school?
  • Do most students continue through high school or do they choose other schools if only one offers an immersion continuation?
  • Do students take the AP Chinese exam, and if so when? Are there more classes available for them after they take it?
  • What about the SAT Chinese Subject Matter test?
  • Bonus questions: What do students do in college? Do they continue with Mandarin? At what level do they test in? Do they go on to study Chinese in college? Do schools seem to care whether they’ve been in immersion or not?

High schools that I know of, from my list of Mandarin immersion programs:

K – 12

Pacific Rim International School, San Mateo, Calif.
Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School, Hadley, Mass.
International School of Indiana, Indianapolis, Ind.
Camelot Academy of Arts Science and Technology, Orange, Calif.
International Charter School of Atlanta, Atlanta, Ga.

9 – 12

Queens High School for Language Studies, New York
Northern Hills High School, Grand Rapids, Mich.
El Capitan High School, Lakeside, Calif.
Minnetonka High School, Minnetonka, Minn.
High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies, NYC
Cleveland High School, Portland, Ore.
Highland Park High School, St. Paul, Minn.
International High School, San Francisco
Lincoln High School, San Francisco

Some reading recommendations from PandaTree

April 7, 2018

Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 11.30.22 AM

  • For immersion parents who don’t speak Mandarin we’ve written a two-part series looking at Mandarin from a linguistic perspective, exploring what makes it easy and what makes it challenging. Our hope is that by helping parents understand some of the linguistic features of the language they can better help support their language learner


  • Our new online Recommended Chinese Reading List for Childrenrepresents a partnership with the non-profit Great Chinese Reads, and is intended to help parents find high-quality Chinese books at the right level for their children.



  • Kids can watch or read classic stories herein Chinese, with many more stories to come.

Have you ever wondered what it looks like to learn Chinese in China and Taiwan in 1st grade?

April 2, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 6.31.46 PM

I love the Internet. You can find anything (well, most things) there, and things you never thought you’d find. And people spend tremendous amounts of time and thought writing up answers to questions you’ve always wondered about Just Because It’s Cool.

Take this blog post, “The Battle of the First Grade Chinese Textbooks: China vs. Taiwan vs. States”

A Chinese-American mom gives a great introduction to the textbooks used by beginning students in China, Taiwan and in U.S. in a lot of heritage classrooms.

She shows pages out of the textbooks, discusses what they teach, how many characters, what they expect of kids and generally how literate they get.

Note that the U.S. textbooks she talks about, 馬立平, are used in Chinese Saturday schools for kids who come from Chinese-speaking households where the parents (generally) read and write Chinese. So it’s not really fair to make a comparison between what those schools do and what immersion schools do. But it’s kind of fascinating to see what’s expected of kids in those schools.

All in all it’s a great look at the similarities and differences between China and Taiwan.

Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 6.31.26 PM

A few notes:

The “zhuyin” she refers to is also known as Bopomofo, the phonetic syllables used in Taiwan to help kids learn to read characters. In China they use pinyin.

Later on she says “The one extra difference that people in China learn is 唐詩.” That’s the Tang Dynasty poems that your kid will probably memorize at some point in their school career. All literate people in China know a bunch of these and can recite them. Using lines from them in your speech makes you sound educated (which you are if you can do that, of course.) In China they’re build into the curriculum starting in grade school.

It’s a great blog posting and you can read it here.

Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 6.31.07 PM

New Mandarin immersion school opening in Bellevue, Washington.

March 29, 2018



At International Friends School we create habits of strong heart and mind through Quaker education in a modern, immersive, multilingual environment.

Our students have the character, communication skills and cultural competency to meaningfully participate as world citizens.

On five stunning acres in downtown Bellevue, the International Friends School opens its door this fall to it’s first classes of 3 and 4 year old children then growing a grade a year until 8th grade. As a Quaker Friends School, IFS joins a 300 year old tradition of excellent academics mirrored by the thoughtful concern for the moral and social development of children. IFS  is the first Friends’s school in Washington state and the first in the world to offer a multilingual environment. Students will learn through a Mandarin/English immersion program with some daily exposure to Spanish. The third commitment of IFS is to offer students a balanced year calendar where learning is more evenly dispersed throughout the school year. Check out more at:


What is dual immersion, anyway?

March 27, 2018

So glad you asked… The good people at Education Week recently published an article on that very topic.

Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 6.36.40 PM

Response: Everything You Wanted to Know About Dual Immersion But Were Afraid to Ask

The new “question-of-the-week” is:

What does “dual-immersion” mean? Is it different from bilingual education? What are tips to do “dual-immersion” and/or bilingual education well?

“Dual Immersion” is a phrase you hear more-and-more in education circles.  This column will explore what it means in practice.

Please read more here.

Vancouver BC’s only Mandarin bilingual program celebrates first graduating class

March 23, 2018

Close to 200 students to graduate from Norquay elementary program this year

Sashaying across an East Vancouver classroom floor, about a dozen elementary students sang and danced to “Picking Mushrooms,” a well-known Chinese folk song used in celebratory settings.

Up next was a rap interpretation of the Chinese animated character Mulan.

Both performances were sang entirely in Mandarin by kids spanning cultures from across the globe. Events like these were a bit of an anomaly 10 years ago at Norquay elementary, though the school’s Early Mandarin Bilingual Program is actively changing that.

A first of its kind in Vancouver and established in 2011, the curriculum blends Mandarin and English instruction for kids in kindergarten through Grade 7. The first stream of students to go through the entirety of the program leaves the Norquay doors in June. Parents, administrators, PAC members and curriculum writers got together at Norquay March 8 to celebrate that fact.

Please read more here.