Scottsdale Schools installs full immersion Mandarin Chinese program

A view of one of the many Scottsdale Unified School District school sites. (File photo)

A view of one of the many Scottsdale Unified School District school sites. (File photo)

Desert Canyon Elementary School will begin offering an optional Full Language Immersion Mandarin Chinese program for kindergarten students in the 2017-18 school year, following up on its all-grade level, Mandarin cultural studies begun this school year.

The program will progress to the next grade level each year — through Desert Canyon Middle School, then Desert Mountain High School — with this initial cohort of students.

The school plans a series of public meetings over the next two months to familiarize parents and guardians with the Mandarin FLI program they have the option of choosing for their students and acquaint them with the advantages students gain now and in the future as a result of their knowledge of Mandarin language and culture.

Mandarin haws been identified by the U.S. Department of Defense as a 21st century “critical language,” according to a press release.

The meetings will be held on the following dates in the Desert Canyon Library, 10203 E. McDowell Mountain Ranch Road in Scottsdale:

  • 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29;
  • 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15;
  • 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017;
  • 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017.

“Mandarin Chinese is the most widely spoken first language in the world,” said Desert Canyon Elementary Principal, Kristin Kinghorn in the release. “If you are able to communication in both Mandarin and English, you can speak to 50-percent of the world’s population. We are excited to be able to offer this opportunity to our students.”

Among the benefits of acquiring second-language skills, Ms. Kinghorn added, are greater cognitive flexibility, superior problem-solving skills, better performance on English standardized tests, increased cultural sensitivity and an enhanced understanding of English.

Students who participate in the Desert Canyon FLI program will spend half of their day learning math, science and Chinese language arts from a native Mandarin speaker, who will speak to them in Mandarin only. The students will spend the other half of their day learning reading, writing and social studies from an English-speaking teacher, the release stated.

With the introduction of the Mandarin program at Desert Canyon next school year, the Scottsdale Unified School District will have its second FLI program. The first program was established 11-years-ago in Spanish at Pueblo Elementary School.

For more information visit concrete.susd.org/schools/desert-canyon-es.

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