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  • We are proposing to lease the El Comino Real Elementary on 4782 Karen Ann Ln, Irvine, CA 92604 from the IUSD. We will need to provide the number of enrollments to determine how many classrooms we need for our students. Regardless of the result of the negotiation, the location will be within the Irvine Unified School District zoning area.

  • Traditional Chinese will be taught from TK to 4th grade. Our tentative plan is to introduce the Simplified Chinese at the 6th grade. There are two kinds of Chinese characters, Simplified and Traditional. China instituted simplified characters (简体字 jianti zi), mostly derived from commonly-used handwriting shortcuts, beginning in the 1950s. Most characters are the same, but there are some differences. China, Singapore and Malaysia all use simplified characters. Taiwan and almost all immigrant Chinese communities around the world still use traditional characters (繁体字 fanti zi). To help our students to build a solid foundation for reading and writing, we will teach traditional Chinese characters in the beginning, then start introducing simplified characters when students attend the 6th grade.

  • We will have the traditional school calendar like most schools do in Irvine and Orange county. During summer, many families plan to bring their children to Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, and etc. to help their children practice the language.

  • To avoid the confusion, our teachers will teach pronunciations directly from the Chinese characters from TK to 2nd grade. Students will be introduced the pin-yin system at the 3rd grade.

  • We are following the California Common Core Standards like other regular public schools in California. During the half-day Mandarin instructional time, students will be taught Mandarin through the content of Mandarin language arts, Science, and 50% of the Social Studies. Students will learn English language arts, Math, and 50% of the Social Studies during the half-day English instructional time. The same topic will NOT be taught repeatedly in two languages. However, parents do need to be aware of the sharp learning curve our students will go through. Their schoolwork and homework loads are heavier than other regular elementary schools. Parents need to be encouraging and supportive all the time!

  • Your child’s homeroom teacher will speak only Mandarin to your child from the day he or she arrives in Transitional Kindergarten. Their English teacher, who they will have the class for part of the day, will speak English to them. While it is confusing for the students at first, they quickly grasp the routine. All the teachers are warm, loving and patient. They use songs, body language, TPR (Total Physical Response), hands-on activities, intonation and visual aids (drawing) to help children understand what they’re saying. Instruction is carefully designed so students can understand what is being taught.

  • Our teachers are California certified teachers like other public schools, and have experiences in teaching other immersion programs in the U.S. Both our English and Mandarin teachers are native speakers and will speak the target language only during the Mandarin and English instructional time at school. Our TK-5th grade Mandarin teachers will be able to teach traditional Chinese characters to our students in class.

  • IIA belongs to the public-school systems and will be following the guidelines provided by the CDC and the Orange County Department of Education.

  • We are one way, partial immersion. 50% Mandarin and 50% English. TK students may learn more Mandarin.

  • We will follow the guidelines provided by the CDC. We should have more details to share with parents in May regarding the option for Distance Learning in this August.

  • Yes. However, we do not provide school buses to pick up students. Parents will need to arrange daily drop-off and pick-up. Also, the residents who belong to the Irvine Unified School District get the priority when a waiting list takes place.

  • Like most schools in Irvine and Orange County, our TK and K will be half day. We will try our best to arrange the on-site after school care/programs so that it is more convenient for parents to arrange daily pick-up. If your child's birth date falls between 9/2/2016 and 12/2/2016, then your child is eligible for the TK program.

  • We’re going to be honest with you – it is more work for you as a parent. Mandarin immersion takes effort. You could drop your child in a General Education program in Kindergarten and pick them up in 5th grade and they’d do okay. Of course, they’ll do better if you put time in doing homework with them and taking an interest in their school work, but in general they would do fine. That’s not the case in Mandarin. Any child living in a home where Chinese is not spoken and read is going to have to work harder to get the most out of the program. You can drop your kid off in Kindergarten and come back in 5th grade and they’ll know a lot of Mandarin, but if you really want them to get the full benefit from this amazing opportunity being offered by Irvine International Academy, you’re going to have to work at it. What do we mean by that? Basically two things: - you have to pay more attention to homework and provide an English explanation. - you have to work a lot harder at getting Mandarin in your child’s life. Homework is just sitting down at the dining room table and being a presence to make sure they get their homework done. However, because they will have learned subjects like math, science and social studies in Mandarin, it can sometimes be necessary for parents to go over the material in English at home, to make sure their children grasp it fully. Note that this isn’t all that different from what a lot of parents with children in General Education do, but we have got to be more on top of it because it is possible our children may not be fully understanding some concepts and terms simply because the Mandarin is getting in the way. None of this is all that hard. Grade-school math is within the grasp of all parents and you’ll easily be able to keep up. But it means having the will, the determination and the time to spend with your children and make sure that they’re getting everything being presented in class. One San Francisco parent’s experience: “My 3rd grader knew all her shapes, but in Chinese. I found this out when I pointed at a pentagon and asked her what it was and she didn’t know. She knew the word in Mandarin, but I had to teach her the words in English. We ended up going through the shapes so that she knew all of them in both languages. It all made a lot more sense to her when I said that ‘penta’ meant ‘five’ in Greek and she told me that the word in Mandarin was the same, ‘five sides.’” Getting Mandarin in your child’s life is also work. Non-Chinese speaking families have to make a concerted effort to find their children Mandarin videos, books and games. Remember that while your child may spend four hours a day at school in Mandarin, the rest of the time they’re immersed in English. Children in China spend six hours a day in Chinese and then another 10 in Chinese. Non-Chinese-speaking children here do not and we have to make up some of that difference or Mandarin starts to be something like Latin, a weird artifact language we’re making them learn that isn’t something used in the real world. The MIPC (Mandarin Immersion Parents Council) does a lot of work finding videos, books and events that help bring more Mandarin into our children’ lives. It can mean watching Taiwanese variety shows on TV on Saturday night, tuning in to the Mandarin pop music, or wandering around on the Chinese version of YouTube to find Mandarin cartoons, printing out book lists for the librarian at your public library and watching Mandarin-dubbed Star Wars videos. As children get older and begin to read in Chinese, it means telling them they have to read 15 minutes a day in Mandarin before they can go back to Harry Potter. Again, none of it is impossible, but it does require a commitment on the part of families.

  • Yes. We will use "Better Immersion" for our Mandarin curriculum. Each child will have their own account to log in after school. Students can click each word or sentence and the computer will read it for them in Mandarin. Parents also can monitor the daily progress from there (in English).

  • Yes. Children the world-over do it routinely. It generally takes three to five years to develop written and oral proficiency in the new language. Typically children soak up the language in the first two years. You’ll notice that they will understand more than they speak. By the second grade, teachers will encourage students to speak more in the target language until it becomes more natural. That said, we have noticed that the non-Mandarin speakers in Mandarin immersion understand spoken Mandarin very well but are not as comfortable at actually speaking it as one might hope. Experience show this is more in the upper grades, in students who came in while the program was still under construction. But it is of concern and something parents and teachers will pay attention to.

  • Yes. Remember, receptive and active language (understanding versus being able to translate) are two very different skills. Think of your child when she was a year-and-a-half-old. You could tell her to go to her room and get a red stuffed animal and bring it back to you, and she could do everything you asked, even though she couldn’t say more than a few words. The beginning of immersion is like that. They understand what they’re being told to do (watch it in action in the classroom) but they cannot translate it into English.

  • The School and the teachers are working together to create a unified curriculum that seamlessly moves from Transitional Kindergarten to fifth grade and beyond. They will be seeking help from already-existing Chinese programs, Additionally, Dr. Scott has met with several Chinese schools who want to partner and exchange resources with American schools. The School and the teachers will create a Chinese curriculum committee which selects curriculum and creates standards and benchmarks for the Mandarin Program. The Mandarin program uses a mixture of two textbook series, teacher-created worksheets and other materials. Some of the possible series are: My First Chinese Readers (from Better Chinese) This is used for social language and grammar. ShuāngShuāng, (Bridging East-West through culture and language) this is used for grammar and academic language and contains many well-known Chinese rhymes, tongue twisters, fables and poetry. In addition, teachers use a variety of worksheets that they themselves create, or worksheets used in other immersion programs which they translate into Mandarin and simplified characters. The curriculum used in Mandarin immersion is theme-based, so students are working with similar sets of vocabulary and can build upon it across both their textbooks and their worksheets.

  • California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) System tests California students on English-language arts, math, science, and social science. The test is given in English.

  • Our students are expected to have homework for English and Mandarin every day. For TK-2nd grade, students are expected to spend 25 mins on English and 25 mins on Mandarin (50 mins in total). For 3rd- 6th grade, students are expected to spend 30 mins for English and 30 mins for Mandarin (60 mins in total).

  • A Cultural Exchange parent committee will begin work on creating Sister Schools in China or Taiwan. One topic of discussion is a possible exchange and trip to China or Taiwan when we have sixth graders. That is likely to be a self-funded trip separate from the school, but there will be a committee formed to help make it happen.

  • All students in Mandarin immersion get one period of English Language Arts per day. In addition, English Learners get English Language Development instruction specifically designed for English Learners. Your child’s teachers will be carefully monitoring how well they are learning English. Many parents are fearful that immersion may delay their child’s learning to speak, read and write in English. It is true that some students go through an initial lag. However research shows that the immersion experience actually advances English language development long-term. The amount of instruction in English increases every year until half of the day is spent in English. After three to four years, immersion students typically do as well as or better than their peers in general education. It is important that parents understand that an initial lag is to be expected and may be temporary. Again, your child’s teacher will carefully monitor your child’s progress and will alert you if she or he has concerns. Many parents are fearful that immersion may delay their child’s learning to speak, read and write in English. It is true that some students go through an initial lag. However research shows that the immersion experience actually advances English language development long-term. The amount of instruction in English increases every year until half of the day is spent in English. After three to four years, immersion students typically do as well as or better than their peers in general education. It is important that parents understand that an initial lag is to be expected and may be tempo

  • Yes, but somewhat more slowly than his or her peers at a non-immersion program. Reading, word knowledge and spelling may lag a year or so behind when students first enter school, but by fifth grade immersion students catch up and often exceed non-immersion students.

  • Any language immersion program, but Mandarin especially, is a journey that needs to last for between seven and nine years for students to get all the possible benefit from the program. All the research shows that immersion is a long-term process. Students are somewhat behind in English at the beginning, but by 5th and 6th grade may not only catch up but often surpass their English-only peers. Some Citations: http://crede.berkeley.edu/research/llaa/1.1_final.html Parents should realize that they’re making a long-term commitment to immersion. It is not something that you start with to check out and then expect that you can leave in 3rd grade and mistakenly think your child will have 3rd grade competency in both English and Mandarin.

  • It is a malady common to some immersion parents, especially in Chinese immersion. Somewhere about halfway through first grade (though it can hit as early as Kindergarten or as late as second grade), they compare what their child is doing in English with what children they known in general education programs are doing and are filled with dread that their child is “behind.” They immediately begin to worry that their child will never catch up, never master written English, probably never graduate from high school, certainly never graduate from college and end up unemployable and homeless. Of course, none of that is true, but what parent doesn’t worry about their child’s future? The cure for this extremely common condition is time and information. So, while yes, it is true that a first grader in Mandarin immersion may not be at the same level in English as their general education peers, by 5th grade they will be at or above that level and they’ll read, write and speak Mandarin. So, the cure to the ‘first grade freak-out’ is to stay calm and remember that you’ve made a long-term commitment to your child’s future by enrolling him or her into immersion. For particularly difficult cases, we suggest speaking with your child’s teacher and principal. And spend as much time as you can in his or her classroom, even become a classroom helper, so you see exactly how much Chinese they understand (it can be eye-opening) and then spend some time on the playground, where you’ll quickly realize that their command of English is flawless. For those with more questions, we suggest you read Struggling Learners and Language Immersion Education: Research-based, Practitioner-informed Responses to Educators’ Top Questions, which is available from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition. Ordering information is available from http://www.carla.umn.edu/immersion/learners.html.

  • Mandarin Immersion parents can begin organizing play dates for incoming TKs, Kindergarteners, and First graders as soon as the School’s admission letters go out. They continue throughout the summer, so incoming students have a chance to get to know their classmates-to-be, which makes the transition to primary school easier.

  • When TK, Kindergarten, and First grades first begins, your child may be confused or frustrated. He or she may be tired at the end of the day (though that’s not really an immersion thing, it is common to most young students.) Still, learning a new language is a challenge. Reassure your child and express confidence in his or her abilities. This transition phase is common among first-time immersion learners and generally lasts from two weeks to two months. Children are generally very resilient and will soon feel comfortable in the new language.

  • We will be working with School Nutrition Plus, Inc. who provides lunch options over 40 charter schools in LA and Orange County. The estimated cost for lunch will be $4.00 and lunch menu will be available a month in advance on our school website. Hope this information helps and I will add this to our FAQ section on the school website.

  • If there are spaces available (generally there are one or two each year at each school) children may enter Mandarin immersion programs without any prior Mandarin experience in first grade. From second grade on they must take a test to show that their Mandarin is sufficient for them to keep up. That could include children educated in China or who have attended other Chinese schools in the United States. While any child is welcome to enter the program at first grade, it is something of a steep learning curve. Past experience has shown that it is helpful if they have had some exposure to Mandarin before hand, although of course children have done just fine with none. There are several summer Mandarin programs available that can at least help your child become somewhat comfortable with a Mandarin environment if you’re planning on applying for first grade. However, the first year will have everyone starting at the beginning so first, second, third, and fourth are encouraged to apply.

  • Yes. While certain things are specific to Mandarin Immersion, we are all a part of the greater school community. Your child will be in classes with students from the entire school, not just from the Mandarin strand. For example, students in all strands participate in library and physical education together.

  • First, learn about how immersion programs work so that you understand what and how your child is learning and most importantly when they’ll be learning certain things. Attend school orientation workshops and read the notes that come home in your child’s homework. If you have questions or do not quite know what is happening in the classroom (your child may not always be able to explain it clearly) ask the teacher — they’re your best resource.

  • One of the things parents in Immersion programs have to remember is that they may not always be aware of what is going on in the classroom because it is happening in a language they do not speak, whether that language is English or Mandarin. That can make a big piece of the curriculum ‘invisible’ to families. Ask your child about what they did during the day (though remember that five-, six- and seven- year-olds often are not all the best reporters). Then ask what language they learned it in, and of course the teachers are always happy to discuss what they’re teaching. Teachers also post the week’s learning objectives in their classrooms and/or online. To get a taste of what your child’s day is like, become a classroom helper. Many teachers welcome help in their classrooms although not within the first two weeks of school (to allow time for teacher-student bonding). You do not even need to speak Mandarin.

  • If you can write Chinese, supervising your child to make sure they write their characters using the correct stroke order is very important. If you do not write Chinese, attend the beginning-of-the-year workshop where teachers will give a brief overview of how to use a Chinese dictionary and how to write characters. Your child’s homework will show the stroke order (in which order the lines of the character are written) and make sure they follow that. Ask other parents who write Chinese or the teacher or even older students for help!

  • Make homework a part of daily life. In the Mandarin Immersion program, students get a weekly packet of homework. Most families have learned the hard way that doing a little bit of homework every day makes for fewer tears and tantrums than doing it all in one night! Teachers estimate that homework times should be around: K- 15 min homework daily 1st- 25 min homework daily 2nd-30 min homework daily But please note that every child is different and that these times can vary. The most important thing to remember is that a little time spent reinforcing what your child learns in school every day at home is what is important. Help your child by carving out time for them to focus on homework every day, and be available to help and answer questions. If your child completes his or her homework in an after-school program, it is still important to make sure it is done completely and correctly. Some things require sitting down at a table to write. But for the weekly quizzes in English and Chinese you can simply carry flash cards in your pocket and ask a question or two when you’re waiting in line at the supermarket or for the bus. Make learning a part of family life, not just something that ends at 2:40. But also do not let it overwhelm you or your child.

  • When parents assist with homework (read the directions). When parents provide additional support. When parents show interest about their child’s learning.

  • Read to your child, in English and Chinese, every day. It is the single best thing you can do to help them learn. The website will have a list of many helpful resources for Chinese and English reading materials, including books that come on CD that you child can listen to while they turn the pages of the book. More suggestions will be posted online.