What is the district’s Mandarin Dual Language program?
The district’s Mandarin Dual Language program at West County Mandarin School develops bilingualism/biliteracy for students through content taught in both English and in the target language of Mandarin. The program also develops student cultural competencies related to the target language. The district’s Dual Language program in Mandarin is a “one-way” immersion model which means that there is not a requirement that any percentage of the incoming kindergarteners be already proficient in Mandarin before they enroll.
Is the West County Mandarin School open to ALL district students?
Yes! Any parent or guardian whose child resides in the district may apply for their child to attend, so long as their child will be a kindergartener in the 2017-18 school year. In addition, as part of our commitment to ensure equitable access to this school, 50% of the seats are reserved for students who are either Low Income, English Learners, or Foster Youth.
Why Dual Language?
Immersion programs, such as Dual Language, are the fastest growing and most effective type of foreign language program currently available in U.S. schools. Most immersion students can be expected to reach higher levels of second language proficiency than students in other school-based language programs. Becoming bilingual opens the door to communication with more people in more places, increases career opportunities, and many parents want to provide their children with skills to interact competently in an increasingly interdependent world community.
There is also a large body of research that shows that children in immersion programs do as well or better in English reading and writing than do children who spend their entire school day in English.
Where will the West County Mandarin School be located?
The West County Mandarin School will be located at the Serra Campus site at 6028 Ralston Avenue in Richmond.
Will there be an after school program?
Yes. West County Mandarin School will have an after school program open until 6 pm. It will be a fee-based program on a sliding scale based on parent income.
What grades will be served at West County Mandarin School?
West County Mandarin School is currently planned to serve students in grades K-6. It will start with kindergarten in the first year and then one additional grade level will be added each year through sixth grade (i.e. grade one will be added in the second year, grade two will be added in the third year, and so on).
What is the application process?
First, register your child for kindergarten at your neighborhood school. Kindergarten registration begins on January 9, 2017.
Once your child has been registered for kindergarten at your neighborhood school, you can apply for your child to attend West County Mandarin School at the Transfer Office located at 1108 Bissell Avenue in Richmond. Parents will be notified in late May 2017 if their child has been accepted into the school.
If my child resides in another school district, can I still apply for them to attend the school?
The West County Mandarin School is a school in the West Contra Costa Unified School District. This means that all seats are meant for students who reside in our district. In the event that seats are available at the end of the enrollment period, we will consider making those seats available to students who reside in other districts.
Mandarin is the world’s most spoken language with more than 1.4 billion native and second language speakers. The District also offers Spanish language immersion at Washington Elementary School in Point Richmond and Stewart K-8 School in Pinole.
Will there be any additional opportunities for my child to learn a foreign language?
Each of our middle and high schools offer foreign language instruction, including Advanced Placement courses that can, with the passage of the exam, give your student college credit.
Which Chinese script will be used for instruction?
Students will be taught simplified characters.
If my children learn regular content such as math and science in another language, how will this affect their scores on standardized tests compared to students who learn in English only?
Research nationally has consistently shown that children in immersion programs perform as well or better than non-immersion students on standardized tests in all areas. It also suggests that they develop better reasoning and thinking skills.
Will parents be able to participate in their children’s education if they don’t know the immersion language their children are learning?
Every effort is made to keep parents involved and able to help their children at home. For example, homework in the immersion language has an English explanation for parents, and may include ideas and suggestions for how they can help their children.
Will students still receive English language instruction in an immersion program?
In a Dual Language model, students spend 50% or more of their day learning in the target language (i.e. Mandarin) and the remaining portion of their day learning in English.