Produced by Elaine Meyer and Paul Stephens
Washington Yu Ying, an elementary charter school with a Chinese language immersion program in Washington, D.C. just finished its first school year educating its students in Chinese, as well as English. Students who start as pre-kindergartners can expect to be fluent by the fourth grade, according to Mary Shaffner, the school’s executive director.
Here in the nation’s capital, there is strong demand by parents for dual language programs that immerse their kids in increasingly wide-spoken languages like Spanish and now Chinese. Charter advocates in Washington, D.C., say that charter schools responded to a strong demand for language education programs that was not being met by the city’s regular public schools. Parents send their children to Yu Ying so they can learn a language that will come in handy for future jobs or for brain development, according to Shaffner. Other schools teach Chinese, but this is the only one to Shaffner’s knowledge that immerses its students in it.
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