Now enrolling: the state’s first public charter school to immerse young children in the Chinese language.
East Point Academy is just outside of Columbia, but open to students statewide. Chinese investment and involvement in the South Carolina’s economy is more than most of the states in the country. With the Confucius Institute at the University of South Carolina helping, Mandarin can be offered the same way French and Spanish have. Parent and planning board member Rick Kest says learning this language has proven to have other benefits:
In other states that have similar programs, the students academically far outstrip the other students in all areas. The closest one is in Charlotte right now–they have a Chinese immersion program. And the students score not only in the top in the state in math and science, but also in English. So they do better even in English than other students.
Language experts say because Chinese is a language using pictographs, it stimulates the mind.
East Point right now goes from four-year-old kindergarten to second grade and the school’s plan is to add a grade level each year. The Chinese language immersion school will be staffed by specialists, says Kest.
The Confucius Institute of the University of South Carolina is one of our prime sponsors. They will be providing all the Chinese teachers. They’ll be bringing them in from China. These are trained Chinese teachers, trained in English and the Chinese method of teaching, and they’ll be coming in around June to familiarize themselves with the area and the South Carolina teaching methods.
The Chinese immersion school, the state’s first, starts this August.
So how does a non-Chinese speaking parent help with homework?
The children will be sent home with homework written in English. So, even though they’ll be taught math in Chinese, the homework will be written in English because we want the parents to help. That’s the whole idea of an immersion program–you really learn a language better by being immersed in it and speaking it in school. There won’t be studying or memorizing Chinese at home.