Portland Public Schools (PPS) is home to an innovative K-12 Mandarin Chinese program. Beginning in kindergarten, students spend half of the school day learning in Mandarin Chinese, and half of the school day learning in English, according to a 50/50 immersion model. Students in the program continue their studies in middle school with Social Studies and Chinese Language Arts taught in Mandarin. The high school Mandarin Immersion Program continuation offers both face-to-face and blended online courses incorporating language and content-based instruction. For students at participating schools, multiple levels of Chinese as a World Language and Chinese as a Heritage Language classes are also available.
The PPS Mandarin Immersion Program began at Woodstock Elementary School (K-5) in September 1998 as a grassroots effort by parents and educators who saw the need to accommodate the desire of a growing interest in learning Chinese language and culture in the community. As the program expanded with each entering class of Kindergartners every year, the program grew to include Hosford Middle School (6-8) and Cleveland High School (9-12). Students in the K-12 Mandarin Immersion Program learn Mandarin Chinese and are exposed to various aspects of Chinese culture as they study various core subjects through developmentally appropriate curriculum and instruction.
In 2005, the National Security Education Program (NSEP) awarded PPS and the University of Oregon with a generous grant and challenging task: To establish the nation's first K-16 Chinese Flagship program that not only graduates students who are professionally proficient in Mandarin (at the Superior level based on ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines) but also provides a model for replication by other schools. The Oregon Chinese Flagship is unique for its continuity and program coordination from the elementary level through college. Portland Public Schools work closely with the University of Oregon in professional development, curriculum articulation, and assessment, leveraging intellectual and logistical resources from both communities.
As a K-12 Mandarin Immersion Program, Portland Public Schools is especially proactive in providing students with real-world experiences, as well as offering flexibility in learning through online instruction. In 8th grade, Mandarin Immersion Program students participate in a year-long capstone project where they prepare for, experience, and reflect upon two weeks living and learning in China. Woodstock Elementary School, Hosford Middle School, and Cleveland High School are also honored with a strong relationship and exchanges with their respective sister schools in Suzhou, China. Upon high school entrance, students are also offered the flexibility to choose online coursework to better coordinate with their academic and extracurricular schedules, and increase time spent learning in Chinese.
The World Languages Institute serving heritage learners came into being in 2004 as PPS embraced a large number of newcomer families from China. At the World Languages Institute at Franklin High School, students work toward strong bilingualism in English and Mandarin Chinese with course offerings in Mandarin 5-6, Mandarin 7-8, and AP Chinese.
September 2006 was a pivotal year for the Oregon Chinese Flagship. Woodstock Elementary doubled its capacity for Mandarin Immersion, making the entering class of Kindergartners approximately 60 each year. Also, the first group of Chinese Flagship Scholars entered the UO Chinese Flagship that autumn. Students graduating from the PPS K-12 Chinese Flagship aim to be qualified to apply for a number of Chinese Flagship Programs at prestigious universities across the country. Part of The Language Flagship, these programs help students pursue their chosen area of expertise while continuing their education in Mandarin. Past graduates have studied in majors ranging from International Relations, Mathematics, to Art History, all the while taking university-level academic requirements in Mandarin.
The Oregon Chinese K-16 Flagship Program will create unparalleled opportunities for students who are enrolled in the Mandarin Immersion Program and World Languages Institute at PPS. Currently, there are over 400 students participating in the Mandarin Immersion Program, and over 700 students altogether learning Mandarin in the Portland Public School District.
For program entrance information in the Portland Public School District, please click on How to Apply.