The Forest Hills Public Schools Mandarin Immersion Magnet Program is the first of its kind in West Michigan. The program began in 2008, bringing together Eastern and Western culture in order to provide a rich academic, linguistic, and cultural experience for students. Today, we celebrate the program’s growth with over 450 students enrolled!
Learners in grades K-4 experience a 50/50 One-Way Immersion Model. Upon entrance to grade five, the program shifts to an intensive Mandarin Language & Literacy Block, designed to build upon the K-4 base and further deepen oral speaking, listening, reading, and writing capacity in Mandarin.
Transportation is available to Mandarin Chinese Immersion students who reside within the FHPS district and may be provided utilizing regional bus stops for Mandarin Chinese Immersion students. Questions regarding transportation should be directed to the FHPS Transportation Department.
Please click here to see the Mandarin Chinese Immersion & Continuing Study Program Update Presentation for information and reflections on our state of the program.
Please click here to read recent articles about the Mandarin Chinese program and its partnership with Western Michigan University for students to earn a free college minor from WMU in Chinese language. The story was covered by School News Network and the Grand Rapids Business Journal.
Why Mandarin Chinese?
- The U.S. Department of State recognizes Mandarin Chinese as a “critical language” for Americans.
- In 2012, China became the second largest investor in research and development, behind the United States, and, for the first time, ahead of Japan.
- American companies seek opportunities to connect with the 1.3 billion-person market represented by China.
- Tonal languages like Mandarin Chinese develop a bilateral network between the left and right hemispheres of the brain.
- Mandarin Chinese is spoken by over 1 billion people around the world.
- Mandarin Chinese is among the most used languages on the Internet.
- Mandarin Chinese is a gateway to a rich culture with over 5,000 years of history.
Mandarin Chinese Road Map
Beginning in the 2017-18 school year, students enrolled in the Forest Hills Public Schools Mandarin Chinese immersion program could begin working on their Chinese language college minor thanks to an agreement signed between FHPS and Western Michigan University Extended University Programs. The dual enrollment program is located at Forest Hills Northern High School. Learn more about this partnership with WMU in an article by the Grand Rapids Business Journal.
Mandarin Chinese Immersion Partnerships
As the Forest Hills Public Schools Mandarin Chinese Immersion Program continues to grow and evolve, we realize that communication with colleagues in our region and beyond can add to the richness of the immersion experience. The partnerships listed here reflect our commitment to the connections.
As an Asia Society Member Institution, the FHPS Mandarin Chinese Immersion Program and continuing study sequence participates in Asia Society organized activities and events and serves as an assistance center and model in our region.
Our district’s Mandarin Chinese Immersion program was founded upon the principles of the Michigan State Education for Global Citizenship (EGC) program with the goal of helping students to become bilingual, bi-literate, and bi-cultural. We continue to collaborate with the MSU Confucius Institute with regard to teacher preparation and training. Since beginning the program, we are encouraged to see that the Michigan State University Confucius Institute continues to support districts throughout Michigan as they begin the immersion journey.
As the FHPS Mandarin Chinese Immersion program has expanded, so have our partnerships. We collaborate frequently with colleagues from Western Michigan to provide information about the immersion experience in terms of teaching and learning. WMU’s Confucius Institute partners with Forest Hills by providing teacher volunteers from China who pair up with our district’s Eastern teachers. We value the opportunity to pair veteran Mandarin Immersion teachers with future educators from WMU in order to provide our learners a quality experience.
F-CAP is a unique partnership between the Utah State Office of Education and Brigham Young University. It is designed to develop a model Chinese education program by implementing it in the state of Utah, and sharing their information, ideas, and resources throughout participating states and universities. As a member of F-CAP, the FHPS Mandarin Chinese Immersion Program is able to access F-CAP resources online.
An organization that began in a grass-roots fashion with the very first gathering held at Ada Vista Elementary nearly a decade ago, WMAIE has recently become a local nonprofit organization. All Forest Hills Dual Language Immersion teachers are members of WMAIE and are able to benefit from professional learning opportunities and networking with our region’s immersion educators.
Partnering with Families
As a district, we value partnerships with the families in our communities. In the Mandarin Chinese Immersion Program, our parents and community members work to support the students and staff in their drive to uphold the goals of the immersion education experience.
Mandarin Chinese Immersion Parent Advisory Council (CHI-PAC)
CHI-PAC was formed as a conduit of communication between parents and families and the Forest Hills Public Schools administration. Through this council, families can expect to be made aware of current events, plans, and developments across grade levels and buildings within the Mandarin Chinese Immersion Program. CHI-PAC consists of administrative and parent representatives. CHI-PAC works along with all four immersion schools–Meadow Brook Elementary, Northern Trail 5/6, Northern Hills Middle, and Northern High Schools. Please contact one of these schools for information regarding this committee.
As part of the articulation process of the Mandarin Immersion program, we look to assessment to inform ourselves. In the spring of 2013 and 2014, students in this program were assessed in the areas of oral fluency, grammar, vocabulary and listening comprehension on the Student Oral Proficiency Assessment (SOPA). For information on SOPA, consider viewing the website for the Center for Applied Linguistics on this particular assessment.
To view a screencast regarding test design, processes for data collection and verification of ratings and results, click on the link below.
Additional Information and Assessments
Mandarin Chinese Immersion Staff Perspectives
I think the best part about teaching in the immersion program is that I get to witness the students’ progress. Compared to teaching Mandarin Chinese as a foreign language, the Mandarin Chinese Immersion program provides the environment where students are encouraged to use the target language only. It is amazing to see how fast the immersion students can pick up the language, as well as that they can process questions in other subject areas in the target language. It is also a privilege for me to see the immersion students who get to develop their tolerance, appreciation and celebration for another culture.-Wu Laoshi, Mandarin Chinese Immersion Third Grade Eastern Teacher
Our children are learning two languages, some of them even three languages! They come from language-rich environments. They are curious and sophisticated linguists and it is a genuine pleasure working with them!-Mrs. VanderBoon, Mandarin Chinese Immersion Second Grade Western Teacher
The students are confident, eager to speak up and share their thinking. I think the confidence they gain by being part of a familiar group for several years is one of the greatest benefits of being in the immersion program.-Mrs. MacFarlane, Mandarin Chinese Immersion Fourth Grade Western Teacher
Hearing and seeing students communicating and studying in Mandarin everyday is the most exciting thing, which has made me more motivated to help each one of them achieve their goals. I believe that, day after day, they will make their dreams a reality.-Du Laoshi, Mandarin Chinese Language & Literacy Sixth Grade Teacher