Below you’ll find an overview of our exciting Mandarin Chinese program and what your incoming kindergarten student can expect in there first year in our incredible Language Immersion program!
Many ask, “Why learn Mandarin Chinese?”
Here are a few statistics:
- The U.S. Department of State recognizes Mandarin Chinese as a “critical language” for Americans.
- 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.
K-12 language immersion programming is designed intentionally to provide learners with time and intensity in a target language to encourage bilingualism and bi-literacy. Students experience daily core content instruction through the means of a target language. As part of this content instruction, students acquire skills unique to the target language, with the overarching goal of developing student performance and proficiency over time. This means that the language is not the sole content of instruction itself, but rather it serves as the vehicle through which content knowledge and skills are accessed and engaged.
The Forest Hills Public Schools Mandarin Chinese Immersion Program was the first of its kind in West Michigan and has a record of success. The program began in 2008, and today we celebrate the program’s growth with 460 students enrolled.
The Mandarin Chinese Immersion Program begins at Meadow Brook Elementary School. Learners in grades K-4 experience a 50/50 one-way immersion model. This means that students spend 50 percent of their time in Mandarin Chinese, and 50 percent of their time in English. Students are taught Mandarin Chinese by way of our reading and writing focus, math exploration, and kindergarten experiences. Children participate in the kindergarten curriculum through developmentally-appropriate activities that encourage social, emotional, physical, and intellectual growth. While immersion uses Mandarin Chinese as the vehicle for teaching some core content areas, we also focus on vocabulary development and embedded language-specific activities to build proficiency in Mandarin Chinese.
Upon entrance to grade five, the program shifts to an intensive Mandarin language and literacy block, designed to build upon the K-4 base and further deepen speaking, listening, reading, and writing capacity in Mandarin. Students who continue through the program will attend Northern Trails 5/6 School, Northern Hills Middle School, and Northern High School. Students enrolled in the FHPS Mandarin Chinese language immersion program in high school can earn up to 28 college credits in Chinese within four years, through a partnership between FHPS and Western Michigan University Extended University Programs. Students must meet certain college admission requirements to become a WMU student. However, there are no costs to families for college credits earned through this program. The program is housed at Northern High School and is taught by WMU faculty.
The following are the goals of language immersion:
- Achievement of grade-level Michigan Academic
- Standards/FHPS Curriculum Standards
- Attainment of high levels of target language performance and proficiency
- Awareness, appreciation, and sensitivity for world cultures
The core of the educational philosophy at Meadow Brook, is through early and sustained immersion in the Mandarin language and Chinese culture, integrated throughout the educational experience, students will work toward realizing their individual potential academically, and develop their target language performance toward proficiency.
Students who continue the Mandarin Chinese language program throughout their education in FHPS can earn up to 28 college credits in Chinese from Western Michigan University Extended University Programs.
Although no two days are the same, a kindergarten Mandarin Chinese immersion student would experience the following as part of classroom instruction:
- Calendar time
- Songs/dances/movement activities
- Math instruction and math centers
- Whole group and literacy instruction
- Small reading groups
- Independent reading centers
- Chinese character formation practice
- Center time—includes listening to Mandarin books on CD and using iPads with Mandarin apps to practice writing
- Fun engagement activities to inspire young minds and encourage exploration
- Recess, lunch, media center, computer lab, art, music, and physical education
We welcome families to take a look at the Mandarin Chinese Immersion Program. Visit our website, www.fhps.net/immersion or call Meadow Brook Elementary at 616-493-8740.
“Putting our daughters in the Mandarin Immersion Program was a very easy choice for us. First, learning any second language is a benefit to children. Second, because speaking, reading, and understanding Mandarin will benefit them as they enter adulthood and the work world.” -Kelly Buth
“My child has been in the program for over seven years, and we continue to be amazed by his level of linguistics and writing in Mandarin. So many incoming elementary children and their parents have the unique opportunity to have their children immersed in a language program that most families have to pay thousands of dollars for. It’s a ‘win’ for our district, community, families and students.” -Michael Walzer
“Initially, we were reluctant to pursue the Mandarin Chinese Immersion Program. Upon the urging of friends, we visited Meadow Brook and had the opportunity to see the kindergarten students in action. We were amazed to see them follow along and participate in class given their limited time in the program. With cautious hearts, we decided to sign our daughter up for the program. The first few weeks were challenging, but soon she came home with phrases and songs in her new language and her confidence grew. She is now in fifth grade, and is able to carry on a conversation in Mandarin!” -Tara Herrington
Meadow Brook Elementary School
Dawn Heerema, Principal
1450 Forest Hill Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546