Mandarin Immersion Program Exploration
The Sunnyvale School District is in the process of exploring the creation of a Mandarin Immersion Program at one of its schools. This webpage was created to provide information about the program, the exploration process, and the next steps.
While Cherry Chase has been identified as the most viable option, a decision on the location has not been finalized and will not be finalized in the 2019-2020 school year. More community input with be gathered and presented to the board before a final decision will be made in the Fall of 2020. Please refer to the FAQ page for information as to how Cherry Chase was identified as the most viable option. Thank you!
Mandarin Immersion Program Description and Structure
In a two-way Mandarin Immersion Program, there is a balanced number of English speaking students who are learning Mandarin, and Mandarin-speaking students who are learning English in the same class. The aim is to support both groups in building their skills in both languages.
How it Works:
- Students learn academics in periods of instruction during which only one language is used at a time
- Both languages have equal significance in learning
A language immersion program is defined as one that involves the use of two languages as the medium of instruction for academic content for no less than 50 percent of the school day.
There are various program models to consider in the development of a Mandarin Immersion Program. For example, a Dual Language Immersion program that implements the fifty-fifty model, uses two teachers, one who instructs exclusively in the target language for half of the day and a second who teaches in English for the remainder of the day.
Other programs can start with 80 or 90% of instruction in Mandarin in kindergarten and will gradually increase the instruction in English until 50% percent of instruction is taught in both languages, usually by 3rd or 4th grade. These are known as either an 80/20 model or a 90/10 model.
Each model has its own set of advantages. It is important to note that all programs eventually are 50/50 before the end of elementary school, where half of the instruction is in English and the other half of instruction is in Mandarin. Regardless of the program model chosen, all students will be expected to demonstrate high proficiency in both Mandarin and English language in literacy as well as subject-matter achievement.
It is important to note that when such a program is launched, it typically starts with kindergarten and gradually expands by a grade level each year. It would not replace a neighborhood school but would operate in tandem with the school. Whether students are enrolled in the Mandarin Language Immersion program or are attending their neighborhood school, all students will participate in broader school activities together. The goal is for the school to be one learning community in which all cultures and languages are valued and celebrated.