Jose Ortega’s “dual-immersion” Mandarin Immersion program integrates Mandarin into the General Education curriculum. No prior exposure to Mandarin is necessary; it is designed for English-speaking and Mandarin-speaking students to develop communication and literacy skills in both languages. Students from homes with other languages are also welcome to participate.
For kindergarten, all core curriculum subjects (math, social studies, science, arts, etc.) are taught exclusively in Mandarin by one teacher (roughly 80% of the time). Language Arts are taught in English by a second teacher (20% of the time). A theme is assigned for each month. Each year, the amount of instruction in English will increase. By the fifth grade, half the instruction will be in Mandarin and half in English, and students will become both bilingual and biliterate.
Our family does not speak Mandarin. Is this a problem?
No. The program is designed for non-Mandarin speaking families and for students who are bilingual or native speakers of Mandarin. If you do not speak Mandarin, you can help your child by making it a priority to learn along with him or her as a family. There are many helpful resources available through the school, online, at local bookstores, and through your local library branch (search “Mandarin”). We parents also support one another by communicating through email, sharing experiences and tips.
The San Francisco Unified School District and Better Chinese have partnered to provide families online access to Mandarin language materials in the home. Kindergartners use Better Chinese multimedia materials daily at school.
How old is the program?
The program is quite new at Jose Ortega. The dual-immersion Mandarin kindergarten class began on the first day of the 2007-08 school year. The only other Mandarin Immersion program in the San Francisco Unified School District is at Starr King Elementary School, which began one year before our program. Both programs are doing well. We anticipate a sharp rise in applications each year as more parents see the benefits of dual- immersion programs.
Each school year, an additional grade will be added until fifth grade.
Is this program sanctioned by the San Francisco Unified School District?
Yes. Building on the success of several other language immersion programs in the school district, the Mandarin Immersion program was created and financed by the SFUSD, committed parents, and teachers in San Francisco. The SFUSD has a strong long-term commitment to immersion education in San Francisco, and the program is supported by Mayor Gavin Newsom.
How do the teachers teach Mandarin? What are their qualifications?
Our teachers develop close relationships with the children. They are warm, animated, and lively, which helps create an effective learning environment. Engaging the students in both academic and social growth, they emphasize the development of a caring community of learners.
Our teachers have the appropriate California teaching credential authorizing instruction in K-5 and/or Mandarin. They possess a BCLAD certification (Bilingual Cross-cultural Language Academic Development) in Mandarin.
What is the homework like?
Although Mandarin Immersion students are generally assigned more homework than the General Education students, it is a reasonable amount of work. For example, four worksheets of Simplified Chinese characters are assigned every week in addition to homework in English assigned for the core curriculum. The goal is for our kindergartners to be able to write 50 characters by the end of their school year, although they will recognize many others.
My child is in kindergarten now. Do I still have an opportunity to enroll my child or did I miss the boat?
If there is space available, Jose Ortega will accept new students into the dual-immersion Mandarin program at both the kindergarten and first grade levels. Additionally, students with comparable Mandarin language skills can join our program in 2nd grade.
What are my child’s chances of getting into the Mandarin Immersion program?
There is a good chance because the program is new.
How do I schedule a tour?
An appointment is necessary. Translation services are available upon request. Call (415) 469-4726 for more information.
View the Mandarin Immersion Frequently Asked Questions on the Mandarin Immersion Parents Council website.
Language Immersion Brochures
Language Immersion Brochures have been made available by permission of Parents for Public Schools.